Mighty Fine Pie
From its perfect crust to its luscious toppings, Pizzeria Mozza’s specialty inspires diners to brave the crowds.
Enlarge Image Credit: Penny De Los Santos
Imagine having to book a table at a pizzeria a month in advance. Outrageous. But that's how it is at Pizzeria Mozza in Hollywood, the sister restaurant of Osteria Mozza, joint ventures of the chef Mario Batali, his partner Joe Bastianich, and the bread diva of LA, Nancy Silverton. Folks without reservations gratefully grab a counter seat, facing the pizza ovens, or wait with feigned patience for a place at the wine bar. Of course, Silverton's pizzas would be splendid—at Campanile and La Brea Bakery in the 1990s, she single-handedly brought crusty, tangy artisan bread to Southern California—but I'd never imagined she'd achieve perfection like this. All pizza makers should apprentice here for the crust alone: it's so full of flavor that it hardly needs toppings. But the crust is just a part of an elegant whole. On the popular squash blossom, tomato, and burrata pie (see Squash Blossom Pizza), fresh zucchini flowers are arrayed like a sunburst; their subtle, pumpkin-like taste complements the lush, fatty, melting burrata. One pizza is never enough, especially if you're just visiting LA and worry you might get run over before your next Mozza moment. I also recommend the white pizza with bacon, Yukon Gold potatoes, and slivers of Bermuda onion, or the one with mushrooms, fontina, Taleggio, and thyme. Explore the rest of the menu too: the buttery garlic bread comes in thick slices cut from one of Silverton's country loaves. Another must is the caprese salad: more of that burrata, topped with wood oven–charred cherry tomatoes, tart and sweet. It would be easy to bypass dessert at this decadent moment, were it not for the ice cream pie. The version I had last summer was made with Meyer lemon gelato, candied lemon zest, and Greek yogurt ice cream. I'd brave the crowds for it again any day. —Gael Greene, author of Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess (Grand Central Publishing, 2006)