These are nothing like the pizzas at the local place that delivers to you, or where you pick up those pies almost obese with cheese and toppings. These are, in a word, better -- more Italian, if you will, substituting great ingredients for quantity.
And because of that Pizzeria Mozza has been jammed since it opened four years ago. Deservedly. Itís best to be a party of three or more, so you can order at least a pie for each, although the opening antipasti, carne, insalata and bruschetta make that a risky proposition unless youíre prepared to eat a lot.
Oh, those starters: the fried squash blossoms, the arancine, the bone marrow, the Nancy chopped salad - one is enough for the table to share - and certainly a chicken liver-capers-guanciale as well as a Tuscan white beans and olive oil bruschetta.
Then the pizzas, with extraordinary crusts (see my pizza article at www.TableTalkatLarrys.com), egg, guanciale, escarole, radicchio and bagna cuada is remarkable. Or rapini, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, olives and chiles. Or speck, bufala mozzarella, olive tapenade and oregano. Itís okay to order one too many; they travel and reheat well, but as warned by the restaurant - not in a microwave.
Save room for at least one dessert - the butterscotch budino. Remember, Nancy Silverton, co-owner with Mario Batali, started as a pastry chef.
The real strategic problem is not what to order, but how to get in. Reservations in this always-buzzing place are a must, although you can try dropping in after the lunch rush and before dinner. Pizza at 4 p.m.? Why not? Or try for a spot at the bar. Thereís a phone ahead and pick up service Ė (323) 297-1130 Ė with a shorter choice of items - no pizzas with egg, no bone marrow. http://www.mozza2go.com/menu.cfm.
Driving an order from Hollywood to Santa Monica during the evening rush resulted in a terrific meal, once reheated in the oven. Confusingly, the pickup location is on Melrose, west of Highland, while parking, even for pickup, is in an alley on Highland.
Surmount the traffic and the reservation strategy. Your stomach will thank you.