• Pizzeria Mozza, 800 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA www.pizzeriamozza.com

If you go to a Mario Batali’s restaurant, you don’t expect it to be cheap. But when we get in Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach, not only we realize it’s affordable (pizza $16-19, dessert $10, entree around $20), we are even able to take advantage of their Happy Hour.

“From 2 to 5pm you can have pizza, wine and dessert for $20”, welcomes the waitress. “Deal!”

We choose our combos adding an extra. The Delicata Squash with Parmigiano and amaretti is a perfect starter to predispose our palates to dinner. Roasted slices of squash come stacked in a dome like shape, lightly moisturized by browned butter. Crunchy sage, grated Parmigiano and amaretti bristles give the dish a savory kick. So good!

When the pizzas arrive we can’t wait to let them cool down. The one with Brussel sprouts, red onions, pecorino and pancetta is truly astounding. The delicacy of the vegetables and the tastiness of cheese and ham are a perfect match. It’s our favorite.

The Pizza with coach farm goat cheese, leeks, scallions, garlic and bacon is really good as well. Maybe a little too salty, but not a single piece is left over.

After all this food we need the dessert to be at least incredible to justify eating again. Unfortunately it is. Our sweets are both very particular.

The Olive Oil Cake served with fior di latte gelato, orange-honey sauce and candied pine nuts is delicately moist and has a wonerous zest.

The Butterscotch Budino is even more startling. A solid, velvety pudding topped with a layer of toffee confection and a swirl of whipped cream.

To avoid the sugariness being exaggerate, the treat is eccentrically accompanied with grains of Maldon sea salt and two tiny pine nut cookies garnished with rosemary.

This unusual combination works surprisingly well.

No sounds at our table. Just the jingle of our spoons clacking against the glass.


It would have been better if… the pizza crust had been a little thinner and your only option to park hadn’t been the $7 Valet.