My third day in Los Angeles, fires continued to rage nearby, and the rental car was covered with a layer of soot every morning, but that would not deter me from seeing some sights and eating some good food. What would deter me, however, was the traffic. Co-worker Mike and I had an (over) ambitious plan for the third day, including a visit to Santa Monica, a stop at an ice cream place with a reputation for unusual flavors, driving up to the Hollywood sign, all before dinner with my friend Jenny near Beverly Hills. Little did we know, when we set out on our journey, that we would spend most of the day sitting motionless on the freeway, hot sun beating down on us, the convertible seeming like less of a good idea with each passing minute. But, we survived, and even if we didn't see the Hollywood sign, we ate some good food. Let's get to it!
After a very decent brunch/lunch at Jinky's in Santa Monica, and a stroll down to the beach to check out the view, we headed to East Hollywood ice cream shop Scoops for a little dessert. I had read this article about Scoops' out-there flavors just the night before, and thought it was a sign that we should check it out. Little did I know it would take us approximately FOREVER to get there. Once we arrived we found a variety of flavors... not as wild and crazy as they sometimes have, but I did have the white chocolate and sea salt gelato, as well as some pistachio-lemon. Mike had mango sorbet, as well as a mango-lemon-poppy seed gelato. The verdict: good ice cream, but took too long to get there. Sorbet better than gelato. Wish they had had weirder flavors when we went.
Me in Santa Monica
Mike w/ Santa Monica Pier and smoky haze in the background
White chocolate sea salt gelato
Next we spent several hours sightseeing... oh wait, actually, no, we didn't. We sat in more traffic. Eventually it was time to have dinner with Jenny at Pizzeria Mozza, which I was REALLY looking forward to. I'm a big Mario Batali fan, and ever since EP went to Lupa a couple weeks ago I was EXTRA excited about having a Batali experience of my own!
We were promptly seated in the small dining room, which offers a view of the open kitchen to every table. The place was packed and it wasn't even 6 yet-- we had made our reservations 30 days beforehand and still could only get in at 5:45 or 11! Clearly this is a hot spot, and now I know why: the food is awesome.
We started with a few antipasti to share: fried squash blossoms with ricotta, oven roasted olives, and brussels sprouts with prosciutto breadcrumbs.
Sprouts from Heaven
All I can say is "wow!" This was a great start to the meal. First off, the brussels sprouts were amazing (does anyone out there have a recipe for this dish??) They were served cold, which was a surprise, but were perfectly cooked and you could taste some tangy balsamic flavor on them. Not to mention the prosciutto breadcrumbs, which I would gladly eat alone, by the spoonful. Is that wrong? The ricotta stuffed squash blossoms were perfectly golden brown and crispy, with a rich, delicious filling. The olives came literally sizzling in oil, flavored by garlic, citrus, and other yummy-ness. Next, it was time to bring on the pizza!
While Mozza has salads, sandwiches, and a few main courses, but Jenny had informed us that pizza was the way to go, and she was right. SO right. There were lots of great-sounding choices, but I ended up ordering the Bianco (with fontina, mozzarella, sottocenere & sage) and Mike and Jenny both got the Funghi misti with fontina, taleggio & thyme. Look at these babies!!
The pictures don't do them justice. This was really excellent food. The crust was paper-thin and very crispy. The flavors of the cheese were really pronounced-- not like the plastic-tasting stuff you are used to getting on your local takeout. The mushrooms on the Funghi pizza were so rich and intense (I had a taste of Jenny's... oh and I ate a leftover slice the next morning. Oops.) I can't say this is my favorite pizza ever (that title goes to Apizza Scholls in Portland, OR- if you are ever in the area, you MUST go!), but its waaaay up there!
After dinner, we were planning to go to Diddy Riese to have some delicious ice cream sandwiches (which you might remember from Erin's trip to LA), but we were so tempted by the gelati and sorbetti offerings at Mozza, we just had to get some to try. We ended up getting half grapefruit sorbetti, half olive oil gelato (!), to share.
This was also super-delicious. The grapefruit tasted exactly like a real grapefruit sprinkled with sugar. The olive oil gelato definitely tasted like olive oil, and was really rich and delicious, with a tiny bit of salt sprinkled in for contrast.
Here's a picture of Jenny and I as we leave Mozza:
***Notice my death-grip on the leftovers***
Just for good measure, we then headed to Diddy Riese and got a couple of those famous ice cream sandwiches I'd heard so much about. And yeah, if you are keeping track, that's THREE ice cream treats in one day. You got a problem with that?