Restaurant review

Pizzeria Mozza, London: “the food is shockingly good” – restaurant review

I love Italian food in America. New York and the major northern cities have developed a distinctive Italian-American cuisine rooted in delicatessens and immigrant-owned restaurants, while California has evolved “Cal-Italian,” based more on fresh local produce and a interest in the health aspects of the Mediterranean. diet. For me, each of these strands has its strengths, but it was Cal-Italian that touched me the most. In 1990, I landed at LAX for the first time, got into a cab, and immediately made a pilgrimage to the Campanile, where Nancy Silverton and her then-partner Mark Peel were the pioneers of the movement. .

Silverton is as important to American cuisine as Fergus Henderson is to the British – meaning immeasurably – so when she opens a pizzeria in London you can bet I’ll be pretty much stuck in the footsteps of the door, rummaging through his trash cans and generally approaching me as close as possible. I can without causing an injunction. I won’t lie. I am a Silverton otaku.

The room is a bit confusing at first. I’m not sure what makes chefs hitch up their carts at big hotels, but Pizzeria Mozza is part of Treehouse, a terribly hip hotel on Portland Place that suffers from some sort of armed fantasy. The Silverton Sanctuary is located in what was once a Pizza Express. It was zhuzhed with restraint: a good facelift but the bones are still visible.

The waiter was obviously briefed to explain that “it’s a concept of sharing” as the portions are huge for Golden State. Pane bianco is a phenomenal focaccia-like number served in slightly smaller wedges than Tom Cruise’s elevators, drenched in the kind of extra virgin olive oil that’s not only healthy but actively therapeutic.

I had hoped that the al forno meatballs could have turned the wholesomeness upside down, but in truth, they were so light they hovered over their toasted baguette, held back only by a covering of herb butter. Goethe thought that architecture was music, frozen; Silverton proves meatballs are bliss, minced.

The white bean alla Toscana, is a paste, silky like a hummus with a high content of threads, covered with a brazen layer of agrodolce, braised radicchio and applied with a trowel on another slice of magnificent bread.

“Nancy’s Chopped Salad” is his homage to the original, served at LA celebrity hangout, La Scala. It’s the perfect combination of healthy ingredients, finely chopped enough to eat without disturbing her makeup or getting patted down with seven inches of romaine leaf hanging from your perfect teeth. But here it is the only sub-optimal performance of the evening. At home, Silverton has the entire San Fernando Valley at her disposal rather than a giant hydroponic tunnel somewhere in Kent.

The London version is quite nice, although our salad leaves are a bit scouring. We may be too attached to the idea of ​​simple leaves, oil and vinegar to handle slices of cheese and salami. . . and I’m not sure we’ll ever accept dry oregano as a condiment. Plus, to be honest, this is a huge amount of biomass to deal with.

The pizzas were, as you would expect, amazing with a beautifully sour thin and crispy base. La Margherita topped it off with a sweet fior di latte and basil, which I felt compelled to smear with an extra garnish of crumbled Tuscan fennel sausage. The Napolitano combined the usual San Marzano tomato, mozzarella di bufala, olives, anchovies, chili flakes and fried capers, but each was of such quality that it felt like no corner was missing. had been cut, no expense spared.

I should add similar compliments to the deli selection (speck, coppa, sardo salami, mortadella and prosciutto di Parma) which was a triumph of quality sourcing and preservation.

As a Silverton cultist, I really want Pizzeria Mozza to be phenomenal, and in many ways it is. The food is shockingly good, the service punctilious, and the atmosphere generally professional but, as a true believer, I find the setting a bit over-designed and the astute skill almost corporate.

I feel, as a therapist might point out at great cost, in conflict. I first loved Silverton’s food because it was so Californian – big, perfect, and glowing with health. Today, in a very changed context, it seems, in a subtle way, to lack soul. I pray the shine will fade so that I can love it as completely as it deserves.

Pizzeria Mozza

Treehouse Hotel, 4-5 Langham Place, London W1B 3DG; 020 3988 4273;

Entrances £ 4- £ 11
Sector £ 10- £ 18

Follow Tim on Twitter @TimHayward and send him an e-mail at [email protected]

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