Friends are the worst. Why? Because they make you fat. They inspire feelings of happiness and contentment, causing a docile disposition and facilitating an increased caloric intake (no really, it’s science!). One minute you’re planning on having a light salad, then BOOM you’re wrapping a flank steak in a bacon quilt. This is also exactly why friends are the best, because you get to cram food down your gullet without any sort of social repercussions or judgment. As some friends of mine were recently moving out of Orange County, we decided on one last blowout at Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach. An offshoot of Mario Batali’s (the fat ginger celebrity-chef that’s friends with Gwyneth and wears clogs) restaurant in LA, Mozza more than enabled us in our hedonistic quest.
The cozy Italian eatery lies on Mariner’s Mile next to a Ferrari dealership, of course. Parking is valet only ($5) with very few street spaces nearby, but if you’re feeling ballsy you can always park at the dealership, pretend to give a shit about the shiny cars for 5 minutes, and stroll on over. The indoor seating is surprisingly limited, with sparse bar seating and a few tables on the patio. The tables are comfy and rustic, butcher paper covering the tops as if anticipating and welcoming the inevitable mess you will make. Water and breadsticks arrive instantly, and our server was extremely helpful in choosing our drinks and dishes. For our starters we chose the Meatballs al forno, Pane bianco, and Prosciutto di Parma & Mozzarella di Bufala. Entrees: Ribs al forno (daily special), Bacon Finnochiona & Fennel Sausage pizza, and the Goat Cheese Leeks & Scallion pizza. We were not fucking around. Neither did they.
I can still vividly recall each bite of this meal, as if the taste, smell, and texture of each dish were still lingering on my tongue. The meatballs are tender with a hint of fennel, topped with a marinara sauce heartier than anything you’ll find in a bottle. I’m a slut for fresh buffalo mozzarella, so that goes fast. The Pane bianco was probably overkill but still a great accompaniment to the slick, fatty pieces of prosciutto that I orphaned from the mozzarella. After demolishing the appetizers and a swig of our beers, we’re ready for the pizzas.
These aren’t your typical street pizzas. The crust is thin and bubbly, alternating between chewy and crispy at just the right moments. Visually they are arresting, as if the shards of my broken epicurean dreams had formed a beautiful mosaic surrounded by dough. For me the standout was the goat cheese pizza, the fat of the bacon and cheese smoothing out the sharpness of the scallions and garlic to create a rich, vibrant flavor. The sausage pizza was an orgy of meat, with all of the individual flavors becoming a bit overwhelming by the end. The ribs were spicy, sweet, tender and addictively meaty, pairing fantastically with the apple-cabbage slaw. They’re messy and worth the work.
Having polished off our plates and with no one in our party ODing on pork yet, we get dessert. We sampled a few of their homemade gelatos, the highlight being the olive oil. Trust me, it just works. Your money should definitely be spent, however, on the Butterscotch Budino. It’s like going down on an angel. I’ll leave it at that.
If it wasn’t obvious, I enjoyed everything Pizzeria Mozza had to offer. The service was impeccable, and the waiters are engaging and invested in making sure you enjoy your experience. It is quite very expensive, making it a great place to splurge once in a blue moon, but with good food and great friends, your wallet (and your health) will be the farthest thing from your mind.
Rating: Mile-High Club First Class Business Coach
800 W Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Daily 11:30 am– Midnight