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Molto Mozza! Just Not a Lot of Cheese.

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We like it when our parents come to the Big City to visit. We like our parents generally, but when they decide to fight traffic down the 101 on a Saturday, they do it cause they're coming for something special - and not just the immeasurable pleasure of their darling offspring. A meal someplace like Mozza is the perfect thing to tempt our suburbanite folks away from their golf-course-view-jacuzzied backyard out to the urban Hollywood waste, and we get to tag along for the (free!) ride. Plus, they made reservations and everything, so even if the food sucks, it's free and we don't have to wait!

Obviously, the food doesn't suck, and in fact, we even had a few transcendent moments of flavorful bliss (we tried to put the idea of Mario Batali and his orange clogs out of our head). The best bite of the day was also the simplest - an insalata caprese, fresh, gooey mozzarella cheese topped with olive oil, basil, and tiny grilled cherry tomatoes still attached to their vines. It's an impeccable little mouthful of sunshine and cream and gentle sweetness.

The appetizers generally were by far the star of the day: we followed the caprese with an antipasti of fried squash blossoms, light and well-crisped. There's not much use for plates around here - many courses, such as the plates of speck, salumi, and prosciutto, come out on great wooden slabs, covered with a sheet of paper. The menus themselves are casual paper broadsheets, and I slipped one in my purse as a souvenir. Then the chicken liver bruschette arrived - surprisingly tart (we think lemon juice was involved, to match the capers and parsley) but still smacking in meaty goodness, thanks to the thin slivers of guanciale (pig jowl bacon) laid on top. We remember trying to find guanciale in a Whole Foods several months ago, and the deli counter guy looked at us like we were speaking a foreign language or something. Maybe now he's learned. Maybe now he's learned.