Pizza Quest Globe

Webisode #6: Back to Pizzeria Mozza

Written By Peter Reinhart
Saturday, 29 January 2011 Webisodes

The Difference Between Good and Great

This webisode segment brings us back to Pizzeria Mozza, as we follow the dough from the La Brea Bakery, as shown in the previous two segments, to the waiting hands of Executive Chef Matt Molina and his team of pizzaiolos. So here’s the thing: there really is a difference between good pizza and great pizza and in this segment you’ll get few glimpses into that difference.

I’ve said many times that pizza, even average pizza, is still the most perfect of all foods. But here at Pizza Quest our notion of great pizza (as opposed to good) is defined by one word:

memorable.  There are, perhaps, a relatively small number of places in the world that make truly memorable pizza and the word itself can mean many things to many people. Whether it’s the snap of the crust followed by a creamy, custard-like mouthfeel, the freshness and vibrancy of the sauce, the quality of the topping ingredients, or simply the location and friends you hang with–all of these things contribute to the experience that becomes memorable.  But, when I use the word, I’m referring to places that change your whole notion of how good pizza can be–that raise the bar and re-set the benchmarks, that change the paradigm. Places that make you want to return again and again, to bring your closest friends; places that you can’t get out of your head. I personally know of about ten such places in this country –there are probably more that I still haven’t yet experienced– and the number of such places are growing, for sure. Pizzeria Mozza is one of those places I would place in the paradigm changing realm (as for the others–well, keep checking back here and eventually we’ll get to those). I hope you get a sense of the specialness of these pies as you watch this episode.

One of the most remarkable things about Pizzeria Mozza in particular is the sheer volume of pizzas that they turn out everyday at this benchmark level. As we saw in the LaBrea episodes, they make well over 500 a day; sometimes even 700. Yes, there are two other beautiful wood-fired ovens in the back kitchen to support the one in the open kitchen, but that’s still a lot of pizza and a lot of intensity. The relentlessness of working at that level for such extended periods of time is something that should cause us to ponder and gape in awe. As the saying goes, welcome to the NFL.

Note: We still have one more episode to show you from Pizzeria Mozza, where we sit at the table and talk with Nancy and some fellow pizza freaks about her vision. You saw a few snippets of this on Webisode #1,  but we have more to come. But that’s next time; for now, enjoy Matt Molina and some pretty spectacular pizza!



At the pizza class they told us their preferred baking temp. is 550. For home use they said 550 or 500 on convection setting.

Domenico Crolla

momorable is the perfect word for the pizza at Mozza.
one of the best I have had in a long time,and I’ve tried most of them!


I just wrote the Mozza Cookbook with Nancy (out this summer), and Naples-style pizza was in fact not what she was going for. She was just going for delicious. Plain and simple. I think we said 550 degrees because that’s as hot as we could ask people to put their ovens, but if yours gets hotter, by all means, get it as hot as you can. (Pizza ovens at the restaurant are near 900, if I remember right.) And… would it be pizzaioli??


Yes, I always struggle with those words, pizzaiolo and pizzaioli. They’ve only recently come into the American vernacular–I grew up with “the pizza guy.” So now that pizzaiolo has become somewhat Americanized and part of the pizza freak vocabularly, I tend to revert to the Americanized “pizzaiolos” when speaking in the plural. But I’m sure you’re right, Carolynn, that pizzaioli is more correct for the plural (and I assume that pizzaiola would refer to a female “pizza guy”).
On the oven temperature, it’s important, I think, to distinguish between temperature zones. For instance, in a WFO, the temperature in the upper dome area is going to be way hotter than the actual deck temperature, which is probably closer to 550 than to 900–I don’t think a crust could survive for more than a few seconds at 900 without burning into a cinder (and I’ve burned my share!). So, for all who have been asking about oven temperature, it’s a tricky thing to pin down and depends so much on the design of the oven and where the temperature reading is taking place.
Meanwhile, I can’t wait for Carolynn’s and Nancy’s book–should be fabulous!


Could I ask if you are responding to some comments that aren’t getting posted? I can’t see the posts you are responding to.

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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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