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Entries in Pizza (8)


Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles, West Hollywood

Yes, I’m going to bash LA a little. I spent one year living down there. I was reminded on my 24 mile, 1.5 hour drive from point A to Mozza how much I dislike SoCal freeways. I was happy about trying Mozza and with all the pizza I’ve been eating lately, it was a good time to evaluate it.


Let’s start on a real high note; absolutely perfectly fried squash blossoms. Some of the best I’ve had. With all the variety of appetizers on the menu, I had to try something seasonal. Simply fried but without a greasy texture, lightly breaded, sprinkled with salt and stuffed with goat cheese, the squash blossoms were sublime. Any chef who has attempted to fry squash blossoms should take a lesson from Mozza.


On to the pizza, the highlight of Mozza, right? Well, it’s good. Maybe just good for LA. Mozza is a pizza manufacturing line, plain and simple. I sat right in front of the guys that make each and every pizza. Four people calmly make pizza from straight up noon, probably till close. Very professionally, always in motion.


However, it's the last two guys on the pizza line that I have a problem with. All of Mozza’s pizzas have a brown crust, not a speck of black blistering. Even my pizza, which had a black blistered area, was “pecked off” by the last guy who handles the finished pizza. And the 2nd to last guy tries to avoid blistering! I thought blistering was ok? But it’s LA. It’s an imperfection and must be rooted out. Sorry Angelenos, LA is not a foodie city like San Francisco, New York, Chicago or even Portland. Mozza’s pizza are “glam shots”. They look perfect, they have lots of different toppings to give the illusion of personality and they fit different moods. But they lack personality, just like a glam shot.

Mozza’s pizza is very good, but in the final analysis, not as good as it could be. In fact, it reminded me of Gioia on Polk in San Francisco, good, just not great.

Pizzeria Mozza on Urbanspoon


Gioia on Polk, San Francisco

Gioia on Polk, compared with the pizza I had earlier in the day at Rosso, I’d honestly say Gioia came in a distant third. Yes, third place. Not because it was a bad pizza, just not a well-balanced or technically proficient as Rosso. And sorry, no pics.

We ordered the Julien and the spice on the pizza was actually a bit hotter than expected. My range of heat goes fairly high and when I get a whack of heat in my first 2 bites, I’m put a little off-guard. As for the blister on the crust, there was none. That’s just plain disappointing. Sure, the crust was an even brown around the entire dough and there was both a hint of crack in the crust and elasticity in the dough, but nothing near Rosso, not even close. 

Conditions at Gioia on a busy Friday night, versus a regular  lunch crowd in Santa Rosa are vastly different, but my guess, the ovens at Gioia run just a little cooler and the crowd a little less sophisticated (and perhaps a little too much hipster youth on Polk St.) to understand what a true blister on a pie should look and taste.

A good offering at Gioia, just not great. Cool atmosphere though and a nice addition to Polk St.

Gioia Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


Dopo, Oakland

Fresh cod fish sandwich. Doesn’t get more basic than that. The basics of fresh cod and a good fry job make this either an easy dish to screw up or a simple one to churn out. In Dopo’s case, the latter. Good sandwich, good fish, good fry job, quality bread. I was happy.

Dopo on Urbanspoon



The pizza I had on a slightly overcast Saturday afternoon on the patio at Delarosa was as close to what I remember eating several times at La Bussola in Florence, Italy. No other pizza I’ve had recently comes close. Could it have been nostalgia that day or just being in the mood for pizza? I don’t know. 

I can’t speak to any of the other food, but the two pizzas I sampled, a prosciutto, arugula, and mozzarella, and a sausage and scamorza both were delicious, both had wonderful crust and flavors. The prosciutto pizza was my standard order at La Bussola along with a craft beer from Tuscany. Same order at Delarosa, pizza and beer.

I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Delarosa (or La Bussola)

Delarosa on Urbanspoon


Frank Pepe, New Haven

Chicago Pizza is the best! No wait, New York. No, Me'n Ed's in Fresno. The debate will rage on with no end in sight. In fact, I'm a bit tired of all the arguments and comparisons between New York or Chicago pizza. Frank Pepe's in New Haven, Connecticut was some of the best pizza I've had outside of Italy. Since 1925, Frank Pepe's has been making pizza in New Haven, CT.

Shaherazade and I ordered two specialties, a White Clam Pie (pic below) and White Spinach, Mushroom, and Gorgonzola Pie. While basically a round pizza, each pie is served in a more typical 'old-school' Italian square pizza pan (just like I serve at home). Any pizza restaurant can slap toppings all over a pizza, clam and garlic is no exception. But where the pizza debate gets interesting is the dough, the crust, and the cooking process.

The heat of the oven is a big deal at Frank Pepe's. They use coal, that's right coal to fire their ovens. It burns hot and dry and can maintain an even higher temperature than wood. This heat blisters the skin and areas can burn around the crust. It's a fast process. The result is a crackling crust and a moist inside. If too hot, the middle won't cook. I remember that phenomenon in Naples; the oven was so hot it burned the edges and the middle of the pie never cooked. Frank Pepe's got it right on both of our pies.

As for the flavor of the dough, I can't say I've had a pizza dough so tasty. I'd compare the dough to the finest baguette I've ever tasted. Or the difference between boring bread in Florence and fabulous bread in Locorotondo.The bread becomes the star of the show rather than the backdrop for toppings. It enhances the flavor of the meal, compliments it. I think we chose wisely in not topping our pizza with tomatoes, the dough just worked well with our toppings. We were both very pleased with our choices.

So enough with the pizza debate.The Cured Ham thinks Frank Pepe's in New Haven should have a seat at the Greatest Pizza on Planet Earth table. It's that good.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon

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