20 November 2006

Mozza, A Review

I was expecting to have to eat outside on the sidewalk—or maybe even in my car. I was expecting to have to name drop only to get blank stares and rolling eyes. I was expecting a lot of things that didn’t happen.

First thing I expected was to be annoyed by the “getting there” part of the ordeal. I took Beverly west to Highland and then headed north. As I knew that Mozza is on the west side of the street and that there is an island dividing the north and southbound drivers, I thought I might find annoyance. Go up to Melrose, turn right, “flip a bitch” (as the kids say), come to stop light, wait through lines and lines of cars trying to turn left, finally pull up to valet and get sideswiped. NONE OF THOSE THINGS HAPPENED. Want to know why? Brilliantly there is a parting of the island right at the valet for Mozza. We dropped the car at valet and walked right in.

We were ready for a fight.
“Two please”.

“Would you like to sit at the bar?”

“Yes we would.”



What about the month long waiting list I’ve heard about? To be fair, my dining partner and I were devious enough to plan an early meal after the musee so as to not have throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the restaurant. We had read on other blogs that eating between meals ensured a good seat.

I’m not a snob about eating at the bar. Actually my date and I mused that we often find bartenders are better at their job than a traditional waiter. We enjoyed our bartender as a matter of fact. He was quite engaged and helpful. He knows his wine too.

The first thing I noticed was the strip mall décor. It’s not a beautiful place. Nor is it even really charming—it’s Sears circa 1996, but we didn’t come here for the décor. We came for the celebrity—and Nancy Silverton was indeed on the line. There were no Mario Batalli sightings bien sur, but the Mario orange was there to remind us that he is part owner/recipe developer/decor picker-outer.

The bartender asked that we order all at once—and so we do. I’m worried that things will come out at bad times if I’m not in control, but it turns out they know how to serve.

We ordered the Prosecco to start with Nancy’s Chopped Salad. The salad was nice; radicchio, tomatoes, cheese, salami, chickpeas, pepperoncini, and a red wine vinaigrette. The salad is crunchy and crisp—very fresh. I imagine Nancy on the line sprinkling the Oregano herself. I would add a little Grilled Artichoke for some earthiness—but that’s just me and my need to control it all.

Next we ordered a quartina of a red table wine each and the White Anchovy with Tomato and the Fennel Sausage pizzas. They come just in time, piping hot and bubbly. The anchovy pizza could have more flavor. My guest and I mulled it over and decided the pizza needed egg and gremolatta. The fennel sausage pizza is perfect. What a great flavor. As my friend said, “it’s the pizza that the adults eat after the kids have gone to bed.”

I hear this: “It’s the kind of pizza that the adults smear all over their bodies and eat it off of each other after the kids have gone to bed.”

I agree. It’s a grown up pizza.

The dessert list does not sell itself. Someone needs a good food writer (I know one btw) put in charge of that—I was not convinced. But my friendly bartender talked me into some hazelnut and chocolate concoction that turned out to be really good. One more quartina of red wine and I was in heaven.

I enjoyed my experience here—I was most pleased. Minus the Bill Blass interior it was a very nice evening.





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