Italian food, American style – or more specifically, LA-style. Though I’m one usually drawn to “authentic” (whatever that means) Italian Italian, the pioneer behind Pizzeria Mozza is the acclaimed (Chef’s Table featuring) Nancy Silverton. She’s a big deal. It was her pioneering bakery (La Brea Bakery in LA) that popularised sourdough back in the 1990s. Since then she’s become a legend in her own right winning a Michelin Star. Having opened its equivalents in California and with a stint at London’s Passo, Silverton has now opened Pizzeria Mozza in the Treehouse Hotel, an achingly hip hotel on Portland Place.
Aiming to embody Silverton’s “simplistic yet uncompromising approach to the art of bread-making, pizza and hospitality,” this pizzeria is very different to an Italian trattoria. Inside, it’s all very polished: think stone tiled flooring, smartly red-striped banquettes, and a gleaming marble bar lined with azure-blue leather seats – the kind that make you want to sit at the counter. The best seats, though, are probably the counter stools in front of the pizza oven offering a live close-up of the fresh produce and pizza action.
Onto the menu, the antipasti here should not be overlooked. To start we shared Nancy’s signature chopped salad (£15). A combination of cherry tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, raddichio, red onions, chickpeas and a scattering of herbs – all chopped of course – the salad was dressed in the kind of extra virgin olive oil (seasoned with oregano) that’s not just healthy but actively therapeutic. Vibrant, fresh and punchy, it’s the kind of salad that leaves you with a virtuous feeling necessary before pizza.
My companions enjoyed a Mozza Caprese (£12) – a plate of burrata, basil pesto and cherry tomatoes on the vine which looked seductively creamy.
The Cauliflower fritti (£8), served with with a spicy mint aioli, were just the kind of fried snack that aperitvo should feature: crunchy, salty and with a dip of dreams. Positively addictive.
Pizza-wise, the menu features all the Pizzeria Mozza classics with their characteristically well-structured crusts. I went for Tomato with added mushrooms and red onions. The result was proof that simple is best when it combes to pizza: the three ingredients each of such surpassing quality that you felt no corner had been cut, no expense spared (not least the (San Marzano tomatoes).
The pizza was predictably stunning with a fine crisp base that’s gorgeously sour. Conventional wisdom (with which I agree) has it that the best pizza is all in the base. Silverton’s trick is to mix multiple bread flours to make her dough and the style is one of its own: airy, soft and with just the right amount of chewiness, the result is a million miles away from a Chicago-style deep dish or New York crisp, and more body as compared with a sloppy Neapolitan or a Roman slice.
To finish, a scoop (or three) of the most innovative flavour combinations of gelato or sorbetto is a must – for vegans, there’s a wonderfully salty sweet Salted Peanut Butter and a refreshingly exotic Coconut.
Drinks wise, there’s a range of seasonal wines, organic and sustainable bottles, and classic Italian cocktails such as negroni and gin fizz. With wine bottles starting at £36, though, a glance at the drinks menu is an indication of the (unsurprising) pricing here.
As mentioned, though I usually seek out a Neapolitan-run pizzeria, America (or Silverton at least) has developed its own kind of Italian cuisine – whether rooted in New York delis and immigrant-owned restaurants, or California’s own brand based on healthy eating and fresh, local produce. Pizzeria Mozza brings a taste of that latter branch, its own brand of deliciousness.
Pizzeria Mozza, Treehouse Hote, 4 – 5 Langham Place, London W1B 3DG
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