Have you guys heard the news? Pizza will save your life! So it felt very appropriate that I had a pizza birthday dinner planned post hangover-of-near-death, post cemetery screening. (And that article is an excuse to eat more pizza with total confidence.)
On Saturday I rallied just in time to go to the Cinespia screening of WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. From where we sat I could only see the top half of the screen, and my Tall Texan Twin and I kept falling asleep. A real feat, because we were sitting on (blankets on) asphalt. (We were at the back of the line– no lawn for us.)
But I woke up for some of the most memorable scenes, including the Oompah Loompah song where they say, “You know exactly who’s to blame: The mother and the father!” (Everyone yelled along with that line, oh-so-gleefully.) (Paging Dr. Therapist.) (So LA.)
I don’t think I’m going to do a “Mad Men” recap this week, but I think the Oompah Loompahs could compose a special song for Betty Draper. It might involve her major daddy issues, and her child-slapping issues. (Child-slapping was also an issue on last night’s episode of “Louie.” I watched it for the first time yesterday, and it’s already a favorite.) (I knew I’d like it. I love Louis C.K.)
But anyway, half the reason we went to the WILLY WONKA screening was that we needed something to do to occupy the time before our reservation at Pizzeria Mozza. It was a miracle that I managed to finagle a 10:45pm table for 3 on a Saturday night, and I booked it… at least a week in advance.
I’ve never had Mozza (there’s a Pizzeria and an Osteria, but I’m referring to the former, mmkay?) before, but I ALMOST had it at my old job this past April. The Powers That Be decided to have an in-office Mozza feast… during Passover. (And to be nice to me they offered to get a salad… but almost all of the salads have salami in them.) (JEW PROBLEMS.) (Mo’ Jewy, mo’ problems.)
Since then, I’ve been waiting for my next chance to pounce. And here it was, my birthday weekend. What a perfect occasion. (No Passover, no problems.)
Okay, now for the pictures. My phone’s camera flashed in the dark restaurant, so everything looks a little shinier and weirder than it should. But trust me, this food was delightful to behold.
First of all, the place-settings were adorable. We each had a different educational place mat about Italy. Mine showed the various football (soccer) teams. The silverware came in envelopes, which also contained little educational cards. And they’re real, functioning letters/envelopes. I’m going to send mine!
Tall Texan Twin (AKA Bea) got the traditional margherita pizza, which was light and delicious. It had red sauce, which is a real plus in my book. (I’m a traditionalist like that… I guess.) (Or just a tomato freak.) It also didn’t have too much cheese going on– for me, that’s a good thing.
As much as I love my mushrooms, I just might have to order this next time.
I’m all about the mushrooms (I wasn’t even bothered when my dad showed me one of those “mushrooms grow in shit” specials on Discovery), so I got the funghi misti (I believe that translates to “mixed mushrooms… grown in shit”).
My pizza also included fontina & taleggio, which it turns out are types of cheeses. (I think the waitress judged me for not knowing that, but I just wanted to check that they weren’t meats-I-don’t-eat.) Oh, and thyme, which I HAVE heard of. (And… it’s English.)
I probably would have eaten the whole thing on any other day, but given the late hour and my weak stomach, I had all this goodness to look forward to the next day.
(Ironically, pre-Saturday I had worried about eating too much on Saturday day to enjoy the late-night Mozza, but due to the circumstances I had eaten almost nothing all day.) (The best laid worries!)
(Yes, I am a chronic remover-of-excess-cheese.)
I think that on an all-systems-go, I could have eaten two margheritas. Not that I WOULD have– my strong sense of shame will never allow me order two pizzas– but I COULD have. And that’s partly due to the lightness of the crust.
One of Mozza’s co-creators is Nancy Silverton, who is also responsible for La Brea Bakery and is basically a guru of bread. So it came as no surprise that the crust was totally amazing. It looks huge here, but it wasn’t heavy or overly doughy. Most of those big bumps are air bubbles, and the rest is just the right amount of crispy and soft.
The next day I became obsessed with showing you the inside of the crust, and this was the best I could do before I was forced to abandon my project and eat the specimen.
Something I learned: Reheating in the microwave mushifies the crust. Reheating in the toaster oven maintains the crispy crust. Both ways are still tasty. (My lunch slice was microwave, my dinner slice was toaster oven.) And during my experiment I realized that there is some sort of salt or spice on the crust that is just… magic.
I didn’t take a picture of Cole’s pizza, but he got the one with fennel sausage, panna, red onion & scallions. I tried a bite (without the sausage because I’m me, but I almost tried it– I believe it was homemade, and each piece looked like a tasty meatball), and the onions added a nice, sweet flavor.
Oh, but I did take a picture of my birthday card. Thanks, Cole! Very graveyard birthday-appropriate. (It played “Don’t Fear the Reaper” when I opened it.) (More cowbell!)
While I was in the bathroom enjoying the space-age hand dryers (worth another visit, right there!), Cole and Bea told the waitress that it was my birthday, so our dolci (dessert) of caramel copetta with marshmallow sauce & salted Spanish peanuts had a candle in it. Thanks, guys!
The dessert was delicious overall– especially the crispy waffle cone crust thing on the bottom. After a few initial bites, the peanuts became a bit too salty for me– if I had more than one or two in a bite, it was a jolt. But I was also super dehydrated, so that might have been a me-problem.
It was probably the trendiest birthday dinner I’ve ever had. (Is that sad to admit? Nah, I’m young and cheap.) (The pizzas were about $15/each… not bad, considering the product and the context.)
And the best part? Two meals worth of leftovers!
So… that was Pizzeria Mozza. And the table-procuring difficulty makes total sense. (Also: It’s not a big place.) I’m not sure if my descriptions were particularly helpful. This wasn’t New York-style thin crust, nor CPK… it’s kind of in its own category. I’m guessing it’s more Italian, with a twist. (I can’t fully remember what pizza tasted like in Italy… a sign that I need to go back ASAP!)
Bottom line: Whatever Mozza is, I’m buying it.
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