Pizzeria Mozza – Newport Beach

We ate at the LA Pizzeria Mozza soon after it opened in 2007/ 2008 timeframe.  Nancy Silverton was there at the restaurant buzzing around, hob nobbing with the crowd that lined the street outside on the corner of Highland Ave & Melrose.  It was THE hot new place to go, and all the buzz… this collaboration between Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali.  Just think –  bread master and Italian master get together and make a resturant… that’s Mozza.

And it was FABULOUS.  Memorable.  Stunning.

I recall my first exposure to burrata cheese – ever so creamy, melt in your mouth, amazing stuff, made right there.  It was served with the cutest most amazing concentrated cherry tomatoes roasted on the vine in their wood fired oven right in front of you… with a drizzle of good olive oil, some fresh basil and wood toasted bread.  This was Mozza’s version of an amazing caprese salad.  It was heaven on a plate and sent me verbally moaning and swooning over it’s gorgeous delicousness.

The pizza was equally perfect… the perfect dough, with good crunch and chew… and a eclectic mix of interesting toppings to choose from.  It was perfect pizza.

Fast forward nearly 10 years, and Mozza has grown with restaurants in Newport Beach, San Diego (now closed), and Singapore(?!).  So when we were in Newport we just had to try Pizzeria Mozza, and that awesome pizza again.

Spoiler alert… it wasn’t anything like the original experience.

I would like to think that if Nancy ever actually ate at the Newport Mozza she would be appalled.  We should have gotten the hint, when we couldn’t even park at the restaurant… Valet only.  I’m sorry, I’m one of those…. I don’t want anyone parking my car… and disclaiming any responsibility for anything that might happen.  I prefer to be responsible for myself… and my belongings.  So we were forced to find parking on the street… not an easy task.

Mozza_Ssi.JPG

The inside of Pizzeria Mozza Newport was charming enough.  We sat at the ‘pizza bar’ overlooking the wood fired oven and the prep going on… quite the coveted seats if you ask me.  We watched this gal making my favorite caprese with what looked like thick mozzarella (not creamy buratta) and 3 (yes, three) little cherry tomatoes – pre roasted, cold out of a tin – and one sprig of basil.  No bread.  Oh, my.  That’s not at all what I would have expected.  The lonely THREE cherry tomatoes seemed cold, isolated and lonely atop this lump of cold cheese.  I would think Nancy would cringe.  Where is she?  Has she ever eaten here?  Is this a franchise?

Even the menu would appear to be different from the menu on their website.  This Mozza menu didn’t even have interesting choices and inventive pizza topping combinations.  We opted for the meat lovers (John’s choice), and found it to be all wrong.  Not that we’re pizza aficionado’s or anything.  Though we did build our own pizza oven – so we are rather particular about our pizza ( kritterspaw.com ).

mozza pizza_Ssi.JPG

Their pizza just wasn’t what it should have been.  The bottom was soggy and the toppings dripped off the dough.  The sauce was thin and runny; and the meatballs so large they toppled off the top and had to be cut to consume.

When I asked a question of our waiter about Nancy’s dough recipe (which is published in her Mozza book), he acted like it was a trade secret and no way could she divulge it.  She has personally been making the dough for Mozza since 1979, he told us.  Really?!  I don’t think so.

Now I know why the San Diego location closed… this is not Nancy Silverton’s Mozza we had been to.  If she is still even affiliated with it, shame on her for not checking in on her creation and various outposts.. because if they are not up to our standards, I hope they would not be up to hers.

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