Baglioni sold Emilio’s in 1995, and
lesser-known restaurants occupied the
space in later years. But, according to ex-
ecutive chef Matt Molina, the building’s
rich history imbued it with exactly the
sort of personality that he and Silverton
were seeking when they first conceived of
Pizzeria Mozza. “It had that certain vibe,”
Molina says. “It was loud, it was small,
the tables weren’t perfect. It felt lived in.
It had a history. And it just felt right to
put a pizzeria there.”
Opened in 2006, Pizzeria Mozza—
which also has newer locations in Newport
Beach, California, and Singapore—boasts
some star power of its own. Now collabo-
rating with celebrity chef Batali and his
partner Bastianich, Silverton first made a
name for herself in the late 1980s with the
celebrated restaurant Campanile as well
as La Brea Bakery, both of which have be-
come LA institutions. She was named Pas-
try Chef of the Year by the James Beard
Foundation in 1990 and has authored nu-
merous best-selling cookbooks.
Molina’s no slouch either. He earned
the Best Chef: Pacific award from the
James Beard Foundation in May, worked
under Silverton as Campanile’s head chef
and helped Batali and Bastianich open
the acclaimed Del Posto in New York.
“After Nancy sold her shares in La
Brea and Campanile, she wanted to open
another restaurant of her own,” Molina
recalls. “Since I’d worked for her at Campanile for six years, I was someone she
trusted. We shared the same sensibilities
Originally conceived as a mozzarella bar, Pizzeria Mozza, which shares space with sister restaurants Osteria
Mozza and Mozza 2 Go, has achieved considerable renown for its unique wood-fired pizzas and sides.
and had developed a great relationship.
So, when Joe and Mario decided they
were also interested in opening a restaurant in LA, with Nancy and me being the
key players in making the products, everyone felt comfortable with the partnership. That’s how it all started.”
Thinking Outside the Stove
Pizzeria Mozza shares space with a sis-
ter restaurant, Osteria Mozza, as well
as a carryout operation called Mozza 2
Go. According to a 2011 article in The
New York Times, Silverton hit upon the
Mozza concept after shopping for chees-
es in a market in Umbria, Italy, and
learning about a mozzarella bar called
Òbikà in Rome.
After working together for years at Campanile in LA, Nancy Silverton (left) and Matt Molina (right) had to delve into the mysteries of the wood-burning oven and learn
an entirely new style of cooking when they entered the pizzeria business.