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The Greatest Pizza in the World Is in Los Angeles (Maybe)

By Ed Levine
January 31, 2007

"I have seen rock and roll future" is how, many years ago, Jon Landau began his review of a Bruce Springsteen concert in Boston. (Interestingly enough, Landau went on to become Springsteen's manager—a position he still holds to this day.) Well, last week, I might have seen (and eaten) pizza future at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles.

I don't say these kinds of things lightly. How could I when I share an office with fellow serious eater Adam Kuban, the creator of pizza blog Slice, when I'm the guy who ate a thousand pieces of pizza all over the United States and Italy researching my book, Pizza: A Slice of Heaven. At that time, I believed that Chris Bianco was making the world's best pizza at his eponymous pizzeria in Phoenix.

Chris's pizza is still amazing, and I urge all of you to make a pilgrimage to Phoenix to sample his amazing, celestial pies. But it's possible, it's just possible, that ├╝ber bread-baker and pastry chef Nancy Silverton is making better pies at Mozza in Los Angeles, heretofore known to be the single worst big city pizza town I have ever visited. At the very least, I want to do an A-B test when I eat pizza at Mozza—get a couple of pies to go, catch a plane to Phoenix, clear my pizza palate with some lemon ice, eat a couple of Pizzeria Bianco, get a couple of pies there to go, and then compare the respective wares.

I wasn't prepared to be making such bold statements about Mozza's pies. Nancy had Fed-Exed me a couple of them when I was writing a story for Details a few months back on the best pizzerias in America. Reheated on a preheated pizza stone, those pies were damn good. Sparsely topped with top-fight ingredients and having the texture and taste of great bread.

But the pizzas coming out of the wood-burning oven at Mozza were a revelation, and Nancy herself was nowhere to be found the day I was there. The crust had a very high lip (what the Neapolitans call the cornicione). It had a lovely crisp exterior that gave way to tender bread. The crust was full of bubbles (both on the outside and inside), what bread-bakers call "hole structure."

And what about the toppings, you may ask. They were sparse and absolutely delicious. Here's a list of all the pizzas we tried:

  • A bacon-and-egg pizza
  • A pepperoni pie
  • A pizza Magherita
  • A white clam pie
  • A sausage pie
  • A wild nettles pizza

Believe me when I tell you that each one was better than the next or last. I could also tell you about the amazing arancini and other flawless antipasti plates made by chef Matt Molina, or the unbelievable gelato they serve for dessert (whatever you do, have the banana); or the butterscotch pudding topped with a layer of caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt that will bring tears to your eyes because it is so rich and creamy and delicious.

I'm sorry, serious eaters, that I did not take photos of all this amazing food. It's just that I was overwhelmed by the pleasurable feeling that came over me as I started eating it.

So, my fellow serious eaters, there is finally pizza worth traveling for in Los Angeles. Pizza so good you won't be able to stop eating or ordering it. Get on a plane, jump in your car, or take a train or bus to the City of Angels. Because it's just possible that that's where you'll find the best pizza in the world right now.

9 Comments

Ed: What have I been telling you about that camera?!?! PICTURES! Of EVERYTHING. Does the Serious Eats purchasing dept. need to get you a belt holster so you remember to bring it everywhere? ;)

Adam, we were too in the moment! We just had to experience it. Cameras wouldn't have done it justice.

it's matt molina (not bianco)

As someone who shoots almost EVERY slice and/or pie he eats (except those that are so unexceptional as to be photographically insignificant), and as someone who therefore delays gratification for an extra minute or so, I cannot accept your excuses, Meg. ;)

Thanks, Pinchus! Fixed.

Living in SoCal in the early 1990s, I recall thinking that Silverton's La Brea bakery baguettes were just about the best bread I'd ever had. So, I can't say I'm totally surprised that that same attention to detail and quality is present in her pizza.

The LA Times reviewed it today (1/31/07). Sounds great. It says you have to make a reservation weeks in advance, but that's before this review. I want to try it, but I'll probably have to wait a while. You can read about it here:
http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-review31jan31,1,778508.story?coll=la-headlines-food&ctrack=1&cset=true

Those I know who have dined at Mozza come away changed. Pizza, the usual stuff anyway, is now ruined for them because nobody does it like Mozza.

Sadly, we can't ever seem to get in there at times when it works for us. I need to make a reservation about two months in advance and hope for the best!

Chris Bianco will never make a clam pie unless an expanse of the desert opens up near his home where he can harvest them himself. Otherwise, we're stuck with his Sonny Boy and Wiseguy. I'll find a way to deal.

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