[Larger images with captions, inline with text, at http://theoffalo.com/2013/10/pizzeria...]
I'll keep the pre(r)amble to a minimum, since Pizzeria Mozza's bona fides' already well established. My wife and I went for lunch on a Sunday in early September for two main reasons: First, we were celebrating our anniversary. Second, perhaps more importantly, we wanted to see if the famed Butterscotch Budino that I had heard so much about could live up to the hype that surrounded it. We were, ironically, not in the mood for pizza (though the clam pizette called strongly to the New Englander in me), so we ordered a simple selection of Antipasti, Insalata, and Bruschette, starting with...
[Numbers correspond to images uploaded below.]
1. Fried Squash Blossoms with Ricotta, $12: The exterior was crisp and savory while the interior was creamy, tangy, and a touch sweet. These blossoms reminded me of jalapeño poppers, but in the best possible way, and without the capsaicin kick, of course.
2. Bruschette of Chicken Livers, Capers, Parsley, Guanciale, $9: More chopped than pâté, the natural muddiness of liver paired well with the brightness of the capers and parsley, while the crisp guanciale and crusty bread provided textural contrast. Portion-wise, it was quite large for the price: three generous pieces cut in half for easier sharing.
3. Mozza Caprese, $13: The tomatoes were slightly roasted so the skin just started to blister. The mozzarella was elastic yet creamy, grassy and sweet. We made short work of this plate with the help of some Pane Bianco with Olio Nuovo (not pictured), $4, which was quite delicious in and of itself.
(Rapidly getting full on bread, we asked the waitstaff to cancel any items that the kitchen had not started yet. They were able to cancel the Burrata Crostone with Swiss Chard, Spring Onion, and Balsamico, $9, but we had two more dishes to go...)
4. Insalata di Testa, $10: A brief respite from all the bread, this light salad of crisp celery, radish, and carrots was quite refreshing. The coppa di testa was quite delicate, while still providing some savoriness and umami to the dish.
5. Bone Marrow al Forno, $12: The last dish before dessert, the plate was laden with three large halves of bone, yet more bread, some sea salt, parsley, and garlic. With the unctuousness of the marrow and the pungency of the garlic, this was a strong finish to the meal, to say the least.
6. Butterscotch Budino, Sea Salt, Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies, $10: The moment we had been waiting for, the dessert came out with a lit candle and a greeting of "Happy Birthday". (We had offhandedly mentioned that it was our anniversary to our waitress earlier, but apparently something was lost in translation by the time the runner brought out the dessert.) We thought it was a cute touch. But did the dessert deserve its hype?
We dug into it, and it definitely lived up to expectations. My wife has more of a sweet tooth than I do, and she especially loves caramel and butterscotch, so I surrendered most of the dish to her (I had most of the marrow anyway). She did indeed agree that it was one of the best, if not the best, butterscotch puddings she's had. I was pretty impressed myself. It was not too sweet, as I generally find butterscotch, and the sea salt really accentuated the buttery creaminess. I was actually more enamored with the rosemary pine nut cookies, which had a savory note that really appealed to me. I almost asked if I could just get a box of those cookies to go!
We were very happy with our first meal at Pizzeria Mozza, and it was a great way to celebrate our anniversary. Somehow, despite not having breakfast that day, we got full very fast during the meal. Perhaps we underestimated the portions, or maybe we didn't pace ourselves, but at least we made sure to leave room for dessert! We definitely want to come back to try the pizzas and have the budino again, of course.
641 N. Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
All photographs © 2013 The Offalo