Mr. Tall's favorite food, without a question, is pizza. So, naturally, I wanted to take him to a really good pizza place for his birthday. Two years ago I had attempted to make a reservation for us at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles about 2 weeks in advance, and they were all booked up for a dinner on Saturday night. For Mr. Tall's birthday this past year, I knew I had to call 3 weeks before the dinner date (that's the earliest they accept reservations in advance), and managed to snag a reservation early on a Saturday evening for a party of five.
We started the meal off with the incredibly simple but fantastic Proscuitto di Parma and bufala mozzarella. Pizzeria Mozza makes sausages, cures their salumi, and makes their mozzarella in-house, so you know they are not messing around.
We also shared a tricolore insalate with Parmigiano Reggiano and anchovy dressing. I love anchovy, so this salad was a winner for me.
The birthday boy is serious about his pizza and salumi, so naturally he went with the bacon, salami, fennel sausage, and guanciale (what I call the "meat lover") pizza. He really enjoyed the pizza, and said that it was the best pizza he had ever had.
On the other hand, I went with the classic Margherita with mozzarella, tomato, and basil, which was simply delicious.
My sister ordered the fennel sausage pizza with panna, red onion, and scallions.
Another pizza we ordered was one with cherry tomatoes, anchovies, olives, and chiles.
The pizza dough is obviously the star--it had the perfect chew, crisp, and char (yup, the three C's of good pizza). But the toppings were not to be outdone; the ingredients had a great artisan quality and were thoughtfully prepared on each pizza.
The most surprising part of the meal were the desserts. Holy moly, some of the best desserts we have ever had. I only found out after the fact that Nancy Silverton was the James Beard Foundation's Pastry Chef of the Year in 1990, and it all made sense.
One of the two desserts we ordered was caramel copetta topped with with 2 generous scoops of caramel ice cream, marshmallow sauce, and Spanish peanuts. This dessert was amazing--the combination of sweet, creamy, crunch, and a little salty was perfection. Seriously, one of the best desserts I have ever had.
Last but not least was the butterscotch budino, sprinkled with some sea salt (a necessity in my opinion) and served with rosemary and pine nut cookies. I love, love me some butterscotch budino (or pot de creme)--if it's on a menu, you can bet that I will order it. This budino was divine, even the cookies on the side were the perfect, crunchy, salty addition to the sweet and creamy pudding.
Pizzeria Mozza did not disappoint, and lived up to our high expectations when it came to the names of Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali. If you are a pizza lover, you must check out Pizzeria Mozza--and save room for dessert! Reservations are had to come by, but it is worth the hassle and wait. Unfortunately for us, Pizzeria Mozza is in LA, but we have happily discovered Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria in Encinitas. Mr. Tall has already requested that Blue Ribbon be the destination for his next birthday dinner. Eat well and until next time!