Editor’s Note Rick Hynum
A Trailblazing Culinary Spirit
There once was a time—long ago, I’ll admit, but I remember it well—when I could
eat anything I wanted without gaining an ounce. And what I liked to eat most of
all was pizza. Lunch, dinner, late-night snack, even a couple of cold slices from
the fridge for breakfast now and then, I’d gobble it down without a trace of worry
or remorse. Sadly, as I’ve gotten older, my body’s metabolism has slowed down,
and I’ve begun to sport a gut that one might generously describe as ample.
So what am I doing for a living now? I’m writing about pizza. And when I’m not
writing about pizza, I’m looking at pictures of pizzas. And when I’m not writing
about pizza and looking at pictures of pizzas, I’m eating pizza, because I’ve been
writing about it and looking at pictures of it all day long, and I am, after all, only
human. It’s great fun, but it cannot bode well for my belly.
Today, I’ve been writing about Pizzeria Mozza, the popular Los Angeles restaurant founded in 2006 by Nancy
Silverton, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, for this month’s cover story (see page 24). After chatting on the
phone with executive chef Matt Molina and listening to his descriptions of their pies, such as the Pizza alla
Benno with smoked prosciutto, pineapple, jalapeño, mozzarella and tomato, or a pizza featuring fennel sausage, panna cream, red onions and scallions—well, all I can say is that a rushed, 10-minute lunch of beanie
weenies and potato chips just won’t cut it.
Aside from the mouthwatering food, what’s most admirable about the Pizzeria Mozza sensibility is that Silverton, who came up with the concept, does pizza her way. Here’s how she put it to The New York Times last
year: “At Mozza most of the comment cards say something about [our pizza] being as good as sex or wanting
it for their last meal. But some say, ‘Go to Italy and learn the Neapolitan way. What pie are you making? Is it
New York? Chicago? Italian?’ And I say no. It’s mine.”
One must applaud that sort of bold, trailblazing culinary spirit, even in the tradition-bound culture of pizza
making. Of course, one can never go wrong by following in the well-worn footprints of the great pizzaioli,
and it’s hard to beat a classic New York slice or some thick, cheesy deep-dish from the Windy City. But chefs
like Silverton and Molina teach us that there’s also a time and a place—and a demand, judging by the waiting
time for tables at Pizzeria Mozza—for innovation and experimentation. They have put their own spin on the
world’s most popular food and will influence pizza’s future in ways that remain to be seen.
Just thinking about it makes me hungry. Fennel sausage pizza, anyone?
Thank you, as always, for reading PMQ, and, hey, keep those cards
and letters (and emails) coming!
PMQ Pizza Magazine
On the cover: Matt Molina and Nancy
Silverton prepare for a busy lunch shift at
Los Angeles’ Pizzeria Mozza.
Photo by Jenny Lopez