Thursday, May 10, 2007
Pizzeria Mozza: Fancy Pizza Makes a Comeback
First it was burgers. Every self-respecting chef in town wanted their own gourmet versions. Now it's pizzas -- all over again. Didn't Wolfgang Puck make them chic and overpriced back in the day? Well, they're back, and the expression, "they're eating it up" has never been more fitting.
The day I went to sample the much-anticipated and hyped pizzas at Mozza, Frank Bruni at the New York Times had reviewed it -- and a pretty glowing review, at that. My dinner companion had booked a table one month in advance and managed to land one at the early bird hour of 5:15pm on a weekday, and every table was abuzz about the review.
The short end of it is that I would return but given the prices, not that often. And I liked the pizza in Bologna and Grimaldi's in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass -- Brooklyn) better.
Walking in, I liked the cozy atmosphere with the high ceilings that almost had a New York vibe. Another reminder of New York, perhaps not that welcome, was the close seating. We sat elbow-to-elbow with our neighbors, admiring their babies, sharing travel stories, discussing the review and most importantly, stealing glances at the type of pizzas they had ordered and exchanging thoughts about our favorites.
Initial service was routine and not so attentive, but our designated waitress was great. She was very nice and made some good recommendations. Like the red sparkling wine, for instance. We were initially apprehensive about getting sparkling red wine, but it was a hot day and we decided to try something new. I think it was called Lambrusco from the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. It was very refreshing and a nice way to kick off the meal.
For appetizer, our adventurous inkling had us order Speck, which we never had before. It's smoked prosciutto and tasted very, well, smoky. After tearing the speck into edible sizes and popping them into our mouths solo, our waitress suggested we try wrapping the speck around the breadsticks served on the house. That waitress -- she knew her stuff! The breadstick married perfectly with the speck's smokiness.
funghi misti) that came with fontina and taleggio (defined by wikipedia as "one of the oldest soft cheeses"), as well as thyme. The second one was my choice, and my obsession with squash blossoms (They're so beautiful and I want to buy them at the farmers' market stand but I'm at a loss when it comes to cooking with them. Don't think I like the stuffed preparation and trying to not have too many fried food) led me to the squash blossoms, burrata (buffalo mozzarella) and tomato pizza.
Sidenote: I found it a tad pretentious and puzzling that some of the items on the menu were in Italian and others in English. Why call tomato a tomato and arugula rucola? Why not call it pomodoro?
Some practical tips: Park on Highland on the southeastern side of the restaurant, as there is 2-hour street parking until 6pm and valet is $7.50. Don't park on the southwestern side of Highland, as it is permit parking only. If you don't feel like planning a whole month in advance, I hear it doesn't get as crowded during off-hours, like around 3-4pm on a weekend or I would imagine much less on weekdays. Maybe the Times' review will make that impossible for some time.