Monday, January 22, 2007

Foodventure #24: Mozza (Hollywood) - a few weeks after opening . . .

What? Another Mozza review? Haven't we heard enough from here, here, here, here, here AND here? And I'm not even including the countless Chowhound threads or people who are actually paid to review this place!

Of course you haven't heard enough, wouldn't y'all want to know if the folks slacked off since the initial grand opening wave? (they haven't); besides, who can say no to food porn such as this?
And so, I'm proceeding with my 42nd review of Pizzeria Mozza. Pictured above is their aracini - basically fried risotto balls with a fresh marinara sauce & a grating of cheese (I believe Romano) - an overall fun and flavorful appetizer, the sauce's earthy herbs and ripe tang mixed well with the light crunch of the exterior and the creamy rice within. Too bad there weren't any actual bread to scoop up the remainder sauce (they serve thin, crunchy bread sticks, delicious in their own right.)

Then came our freshly baked pizzas:

Bacon, leek & goat cheese (above) and fennel sausage, red onion & panna (below) on an absolutely delightful crust: crunchy with occasional blisters of burnt with a tender, chewy interior. Overall I think the toppings were a bit skimpy compared to the bread (confirming some Chowhounders' opinions) but the combinations were sensational, particularly for the former -- with the tart goat cheese melding wonderfully onto the crispy bacon and the fragrant leeks. The fennel-studded sausage was particularly memorable as well.

And of course, we finished off with some desserts:

A fig crostata with lemon crema - it tasted fine, albeit a bit unimpressive, particularly the crostata itself, which reminded me of a glammed-up version of Fig Newton, a nicer crust, significantly less sugary, but same substance. The crema, whose texture is more like a soft panna cotta, was more interesting but nothing to write home about.

And of course, following everyone else's lead - we also got the:

Butterscotch budino with rosemary-pine nut cookies - the pudding would have been ordinary if not for that dab of fleur de sel mixed right underneath (or perhaps) into that layer of caramel - the wonderful fragrant saltiness definitely takes the edge off this otherwise sweet & rich dessert. The cookies (paired with usually savory rosemary) were equally intriguing with every bite. Alas, even as yummy as this dish was -- after everything else I ate, I couldn't finish it.

So, all in all I'm happy to report that even after a month or so of non-stop business, Mozza is still churning out generally delicious dishes that's well worth the wait (you have to call at least a week ahead to get a reservation at a decent hour, or you can always press your luck with a bar seating and hope you don't get whammied.)

The Bill:
Aracini: $8
Goat Cheese-Bacon Pizza: $13
Fennel Sausage-Red Onion Pizza: $14
Fig Crostata: $7
Butterscotch Budino: $7
Coffee: $3

Total before tax/tips: $52

The Rating:
Ambience: 4/5 (very interesting use of the space, a sophisticate yet casual and airy atmosphere with warm tones & high ceilings, plus an ample view of the kitchen - centered, of course, around the brick fire oven where all the pizzas are baked in.)
Value: 3/5 (a little high for the goods you're getting, but I this isn't your everyday football-game/all-night pizzeria, and given the quality of ingredients, service & atmosphere, the premium doesn't seem that bad.)
Service: 9/10 (despite the weeklong wait list, whether you sit at the bar or actually got a table, the staff service is generally superb, if only just a bit hustled and overwhelmed by a full house business.)
Food: 18/20 (generally very good and higher than what I expected - even after reading a gazillion other reviews - with very few and very minor points of disappointment.)
Bonus/Demerit: N/A
TOTAL: 34/40 (nice joint! a decent place to go for special occasions or to bring a friend/relative for a upscale, unique yet casual pizza experience.)

Other notes:
- Valet Parking @ $6, but I had not trouble finding street parking on Highland.
- Did I mention making reservations at least a week in advance? (and to OpenTable fanatics, like me, sorry, but Mozza's not in the network for now--they tried it the first couple of weeks but it proved way too overwhelming.)

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland (cross street Melrose)
Los Angeles, CA
Pizzeria Mozza on Urbanspoon


Chubbypanda said...

I'm sick of Mozza reviews, but you're right. Looking at the pictures, I can't say "no". Panda want!


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