I tend to find high priced pizza to be something of an oxymoron. I associate pizza with late night post-party college face-stuffing, or with delivery guys who drive too fast, or with trying to save money when in Italy. Pizzas that cost twenty dollars generally annoy me unless they are the size of a small Uhaul. I've had my fair share of expensive pizzas that claim to use things like truffles, rare hams, and heirloom tomatoes that disappoint more often than surprise. Yet Pizzeria Mozza, part of Mario Batali's burgeoning restaurant empire, delivers pizzas that are worth every pricey penny. Rich in flavor with a substantive yet crispy crust and tons of topping choices, pizzas in Mozza show that expensive pies can indeed live up to their hype.
Next door to the acclaimed (and stratospherically more pricey) Osteria Mozza, the Pizzera is small, crowded, and loud. You would imagine that these would be negatives, but Mozza manages to do all of this with aplomb. I'm not sure what it is about the space - perhaps the natural woodsy colors, or maybe the extensive bar seating, or the fact that you sit so close that you're up in each other's business - but Mozza screams Europe to me. Intimate and casual, Mozza feels like a corner restaurant in an Italian neighborhood that serves great food and wine, an equal opportunity purveyor of yum to those with the means to enjoy it. Trendy Hollywood types sit next to families that are sitting next to tourists. A downside of the popularity and smallish space though is that the restaurant seems perpetually crowded. Call early for reservations if possible, or be prepared to wait.
Mozza has a pretty decent-sized menu, with a good choice of pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and starters. You're not going to get by spending less than $20-30 a person, sans vino, and healthy eaters will easily spend more. Pizzas range from $10-23, with most settling in at $16-18. Starters are democratically priced at $12. It's best to leave room for dessert too, as Mozza's desserts are as good as their pizzas. I had a great experience with the fennel sausage and panna pizza (just thinking about the sausage is making my mouth water) and the egg, bacon, and potato pizza. Two pizzas for two people will likely leave you with leftovers.
It's rare for a restaurant in LA to live up to it's own hype, but Pizzeria Mozza definitely does. I don't think there was anything I disliked about my time there, and while I'm no connoisseur, the pizza is probably the best I've had Stateside. Mozza is a winner.
Pizzeria Mozza | 641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036 | 1.323.297.0101