Pizza lovers and gourmands across the county have been giving thanks since September 1st that they no longer have to drive to LA to savor the wood-fired pizzas, artisanal salumi and cheeses, and fine wines of Pizzeria Mozza, the unanimously adored brainchild spawned from the partnership between Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton, It’s tough to get a reservation, but if you’re willing to dine early or dine late, you’ll experience what all the buzz is about. We snagged a reservation for 4 for lunch at 1:30 on a Thursday afternoon; feast your eyes on This Week’s Obsession….
Keep in mind that this is no bargain pizza joint – three famous restauranteurs, one Iron Chef /TV personality, artisan foods, a vineyard owner’s wine list, and Newport Beach chic at play here. Is it worth it? In a word, YES!
The bright orange facade catches your eye, and once you pay $8 for the valet and enter the bustling dining room, you’ll feel as if you have “arrived”. The bustling dining room feels modern with its high ceilings yet warm terra cotta walls and wood furnishings create an earthy appeal. Whether you’re seated at the bar surrounding the kitchen and giant wood burning oven, the sunny patio, or main dining room, the soundtrack of exuberant classic and pop hits from the 60’s through the 90’s sets a party mood.
The expertly edited menu includes 10-12 antipasti at $12 each, 5 salads, a selection of Italian salumi, as well as a few bruschette and paninis. We chose Nancy’s chopped salad (below) and the Crispy goat cheese with Umbrian lentils. The vibrant colors of the salad with slivers of cheese and cured meats was visually appealing and portioned to share. We found it to be a bit overdressed with an abundance of bitter radicchio that overpowered the other greens, but still enjoyable. The perfectly-fried ball of creamy goat cheese surrounded by savory lentils was delicious but a rather small portion for $12 and really only enough for two to share.
We had a difficult time choosing among the 16 or so pizzas and wished we could have ordered more than two; ultimately deciding on the Pizza all Benno (speck, pineapple, jalapenos, mozzarella, and tomato) and the Fennel sausage pizza (a white pizza of panna, red onions, and scallions). On the back of the menu were the Piatti del Giorno. Being Thursday, the special was Ribs al forno with apple cider vinegar, fennel and honey! How could we resist?
It was a tie between the fennel sausage pizza and the short ribs which was the more delectable dish! Distinctive house made fennel sausage paired with luscious panna and scallions versus fall-off-the-bone tender ribs swathed in a caramelized sweet/tart apple vinegar and honey sauce perfectly balanced with cool, creamy slaw.
The Pizza alla Benno (opening photo) had a wonderful interplay of sweet and spicy flavors with nearly translucent ribbons of speck (smoked prosciutto), pineapple, and jalapenos. I like spicy, but there were a lot of unseeded jalapenos on that baby and it was a little too spicy for the girls overall. By no means should you miss ordering a pizza at Mozza: with 16 different choices, including squash blossoms with burrata, gorgonzola dolce with fingerling potatoes, funghi (mushroom) with fontina and taleggio, prosciutto di Parma, and salami – there’s one for every pizza loving palate.
Give the”Edible Wall” more than a passing glance!
800 West Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92663 949 945 1126