Pizzeria Mozza and Pizzeria Bianco back to back

24 hours: Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza in L.A., and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix

OK, here’s how it’s done: catch a morning flight to L.A.; head to the general vicinity of Beverly Hills; eat at four restaurants in a row and catch a flight the next day to Phoenix to do the exact same thing. Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, a joint venture between Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton, are two of L.A.’s hottest tables, and were the third and fourth stops on our multi-restaurant tour of L.A. I admit to things getting a bit fuzzy by the time we were actually seated at Osteria Mozza, but sommelier Alex Weil and the rest of the staff graciously took care of us anyway, and Nancy Silverton stopped by our table to see what all of the commotion was about.

The game plan

Lambrusco from Medici Ermete and an Aglianico del Vulture were perfect partners for pizza.

Nancy Silverton first made a name for herself as the head pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago and later at her landmark restaurant Campanile. She has since gone on to open La Brea Bakery, write multiple cookbooks, win a couple of James Beard awards, and open the two Mozzas, starting with the pizzeria in 2006. Silverton prides herself on sourcing the best ingredients that are locally available, and you immediately notice how pristine all of the food is, from delicate squash blossoms to perfectly sweet baby beets. But when the pizzas hit the table your attention is drawn to their airy, slightly charred crust, with an intensely wheaty flavor.

This is a baker’s pizza, not unlike the one I had at Co. in New York a few months ago. I don’t mean that as a slight, just that you can tell that particular attention has been given to the crust. It’s truly delicious pie. Lambrusco is a brilliant choice for pizza because its fizz offers a cleansing burst of refreshment between the salt and cheese of the pizza. I’m really enthusiastic about the Lambruscos being produced by Medici Ermete which the staff at Mozza now knows all too well. The 2000 Terre Degli Svevi Aglianico Del Vulture Re Manfredi was another great find on their list and made me realize that I don’t drink enough Aglianico.

Long lines in 110 degree heat, definitely worth it

Everything you’ve ever heard about this institution of pizza is absolutely true. You will wait forever in scorching heat. You will drink too much at Bar Bianco next door while you wait. And you will eat the best pizza of your life when you finally sit down. Owner Chris Bianco makes every single pizza and there are only five of them to choose from. Hands down, the Biancoverde, with fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta, and arugula is the best pizza I’ve ever tasted, but all of his pizzas are otherworldly. Very few things live up to their hype: The Spotted Pig, The Eiffel Tower…Richebourg. Bianco’s pies are right up there.

posted on August 12 2009 by jesse

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