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Pizzeria Mozza, Redux

Written By Peter Reinhart
Friday, 02 March 2012 Peter's Blog

This week, because we’ve had so many new visitors to Pizza Quest, we’ve decided to re-post one of our earliest video webisodes, from Pizzeria Mozza, in Hollywood.  I chose this particular segment because Matt Molina, who is the Executive Chef at Pizzeria Mozza, fills us in about what it’s like to be working under the tutelage of owners Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali and we also get some great shots of the beautiful pizzas that come out of those glowing wood fired ovens. For those who never got to watch the whole Mozza series, this segment should get you fired up to go to our Webisodes section and look over the whole list (the actual list is located at the bottom of each of the two pages in this section, and all the Mozza links are at the bottom of the second page).

Matt, who has been working for and with Nancy since he was 20 years old (he’s over 31 now), first at her James Beard Award winning restaurant Campanile, and now at Pizzeria Mozza, oversees a full team of pizzaioli who have to turn out not only hundreds of world class pizzas daily (their Hollywood customers won’t settle for less than the best), but also an array of inventive side dishes and killer desserts. One of the recurrent themes we’ve explored throughout the past year here on Pizza Quest is the necessity of the presence of a key person, an artisan, to be at the center of the pizza experience.  It’s enough of challenge when this all falls to one person, an artiste who controls every single pizza, but most pizzerias are too big and busy for this and must rely on a team of well-trained pizzaioli, and each member of that team carries the whole reputation of the restaurant on his or her shoulders. In the case of Pizzeria Mozza, the transmission of the artisan spirit must travel from Nancy (and Mario, though Nancy is the pizza visionary while Mario focuses on the menu at Osteria Mozza next door),  through Matt, and then through him to his team. We’ve seen the same challenge at other places we’ve featured such as Pizzeria Delfina and Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and, of course, at many other pizzerias we’ve not yet featured in webisodes. We also have all seen how at some of establishments, when this transmission breaks down so does the reputation of the restaurant.  You can tell from Matt’s personality that he’d be a great guy to work under, that he takes his responsibilities seriously, and it’s obvious from the consistency of the pizzas that emerge from the almond wood-fired brick ovens that the transmission of the original spirit definitely gets through to everyone.

If you enjoy this segment, as I think you will, please go back through all the Mozza episodes, including a visit to the famous La Brea Bakery where the doughs are made (about 700 every day — that’s a lot of pizza!), a session with Matt making us some pizzas, and also watch our sit-down with Nancy Silverton and well-known food writers Russ Parsons, and Kristine Kidd.  These segments convey far more than I can in written words the excitement that great pizza evokes in all of us.

You’ll notice that I used that word, great, intentionally. The pizzas at Mozza are among the greatest in the world, in my opinion, and this greatness is a result of more than any one thing or one person, but it all starts with a vision and a visionary who is committed to greatness. We all know of such places and people, and we take great joy here at Pizza Quest in celebrating them and sharing them with you.





You’re right Joe — it’s not always the percentage that’s different but the quality of the protein as well, based on the type of wheat (or wheats) used. As you noted, the water absorption rate can be very different, and they do perform differently in the oven. For instance, Mozza’s pizza could not be made with Caputo or San Felice 00 flour and stand up to the oven for the 5 minutes or so that they take to bake, nor would they have the same puffing aspect in the [i]cornicione[/i]. But that’s what’s so cool about pizza — there are seemingly infinite ways to do it and, when you’ve tasted some of the best versions of the various styles we get to choose for ourselves which style we like best and we can all be right!

Joe A

Indeed Peter…as much as I love the taste and lightness of 00 flour, it doesn’t do the right thing at low temps and long(over 2 min)bake times. I wind up adding both barley malt and diastatic malt to mine to encourage browning. It comes out very nice,but I am still missing the textural component that a true wood fired oven would bring. Tried the oil on the rim yesterday and it was just OK, it didnt brown any better. I get more puffyness/oven spring with plain water. Unbeached, unbrominated AP flour gives really nice results, not a big fan of the high gluten flours, they seem to be too heavy on the stomach for my taste, just personal preferance, or like you mentioned it doesn’t interface with my recipe/baking protocol.

Joe A

Greetings Peter: Got a chance to make pies recently and I found using water on the rim really made the difference with a 5 min bake time. Nice puffy rim, with a great texture. Just thought I would pass that on. I used my usual W300 00 flour with added malt syrup for browning.

frank p

i loved the videos on mozza,and the dough looked AMAZING,can you say they use unbleached flour,70 % water, salt,did they use sugar or malt or olive oil too?i am tring to make something similar in my 500 f deck it possible to have that large hole structure crust too?

frank p

sorry,unbleached bread flour.

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Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

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