Pizzeria Mozza (Newport Beach) - Interrupt

>> Thursday, January 26, 2012

Date of Dining: 11/6/2011
Price: $8-26 per item
Location: 800 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92663

The Quick Bit:
+ Amazing artisan pizza in both taste and presentation
+ Use of house made quality ingredients
+ High quality dessert options
Δ Price could be more accessible
Δ Mandatory (expensive) Valet Parking

Seemingly every blogger and their mother that covers Orange County  has a post about Pizzeria Mozza, so I figured I had procrastinated long enough from my visit last year. If you've been following my work closely, you will have noted that I awarded the pizza from Pizzeria Mozza the Best Pizza in the 2011 gastrobits awards. Hopefully in the future, I will post about all the places I go before I randomly award one of the recipients.
For the uninitiated, Pizzeria Mozza is the brainchild of Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich. Silverton is one of the leading pastry chefs of the world and behind Southern California's biggest bakery, La Brea Bakery. She previously worked for Wolfgang Puck at Spago and founded Campanile with Mark Peel. Mario Batali of food network fame really needs no introduction. Similarly, Joe Bastianich can be seen as a judge on Fox's Masterchef where his biting criticism has earned him a slew of critics. Despite the criticism, Bastianich remains one of the leading restauranteurs in the US, 
While I did have somewhat high expectations entering Pizzeria Mozza, I did temper those expectations to some extent because I figured the food was somewhat overhyped with all the star-power behind the restaurant. The artisan pizzas at Mozza have received much attention previously for par-baking the pizza crust, and I wanted to find out once and for all if this method really did improve the pizzas. (Because the crust is par-baked, Pizzeria Mozza's pizzas are not VPN certified).
affetati misti - proscuitto di parma, salume nostrano, finnochiona
The selection of meats on the salumi board was a great way to begin the meal. Each meat was of extremely high quality, and the flavors and textures served as an excellent appetizer. I enjoyed the salume nostrano the most as the flavor had the most character with the subtle mix of spice, fat, and delicious pork flavor.

lasagna al forno
I thought this was the best dish of the meal. At Pizzeria Mozza, there is a special item on the menu for each day of the week, and the lasagna was the special when I went. This lasagna had a perfect mix of spicy, flavorful house made sausage mixed with a house-made pasta and topped with a perfectly balanced topping of crispy cheese. The lasagna skipped the ricotto that usually overwhelms the flavor and instead focused on a pure savory meaty goodness.
fennel sausage, panna, red onion, scallions pizza

Not far behind the lasagna, this pizza really impressed me as well. The house-made sausage had an aggressively strong fennel flavor that was balanced by the scallions and red onion. I thought it was great that there was no tomato sauce on the pizza as that would have detracted from the other elements on the pizza. This pizza was good enough for me to declare it the Pizza of the Year for 2011. 
squash blossoms, tomato, and burrata pizza
The most impressive element to this pizza was the presentation. However, in addition to the gorgeous presentation with the layout of the squash blossoms, this pizza also really delivered on flavor. On this pizza, the position of the cheese and toppings are somewhat juxtaposed with the burrata being placed on top of the squash blossoms. However, the flavors in this dish really worked.

butterscotch budino, maldon salt, rosemary pine nut cookies
While I was mainly full from the mains, I couldn't resist ordering the signature dessert - butterscotch pudding. This pudding is what Blue Ribbon Pizza seemed to want to copy as a dessert. However, the presentation and implementation at Mozza was far superior. The rosemary on the cookies was a real complement to the pudding and really brought up the entire dessert a notch.

While there are many rumors about an expansion to San Diego, the closest Mozza location remains Newport Beach. I thoroughly enjoyed by visit to Pizzeria Mozza and recommend it to any lover of Italian food visiting Newport Beach. The high quality ingredients are prepared technically and plated artistically to delivery a truly impressive experience.
While I wanted to award Pizzeria Mozza the megabit award, I realized the pricing really puts it out of that category. Instead, Pizzeria Mozza is awarded the megabyte award.


Sandeep January 28, 2012 at 9:48 PM  

Nice write-up. Looks like they would have ample vegetarian options. I'll visit this place sometime soon.

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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
If any special treatment is provided to the blogger, full disclosure is presented at the beginning of the post.

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