Daily Slice: Bianco DiNapoli Margherita from Mozza2Go, Los Angeles, CA
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
[Photographs: Lance Roberts]
Four years ago, I wrote into Slice with a feverish, misguided screed declaring that Pizzeria Bianco "wiped the floor" with Pizzeria Mozza. These days Chris Bianco is still my pizza lord and savior, but I've also gained a deep love and affection for Nancy Silverton's pizza at Mozza. And now, with the recent introduction of Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes at Mozza and their takeout storefront, Mozza2Go (which I recommend if you don't want to plan out your pizza eating three weeks in advance), worlds have collided and my Slice life comes full circle.
My biggest complaint with Mozza was always the Margherita (it's still the only pizza on the menu that doesn't turn me into this happy kid) and the biggest problem with the Margherita has always, always been the too herby, overly tangy, borderline sludgy tomato sauce. Enter Bianco DiNapoli plum tomatoes. Conceived by Bianco and veteran, third generation canner Rob DiNapoli, and organically grown and harvested by Cliff Fong in Los Gatos, CA, the tomatoes completely change the complexion of Mozza's Margherita. Impossibly bright and clean, they have the balance and the sweetness that was missing in the original. In addition, the simplicity of the sauce ends up highlighting the baker's crust in a way the old sauce could only dream of (important note: I have no conclusive proof that sauce dreams).
So where's the rub? Well, Mozza treats the new line of four Bianco DiNapoli pizzas as luxury options (they even have their own section in the menu) and while the regular Margherita is slightly expensive at $14, the Bianco DiNapoli Margherita carries a Mangieri-esque $20 price tag. To justify that, they've also swapped in bufala mozzarella for the regular cow's milk (though not much of it I'm afraid). I'm always begging for bufala, but sauce this pristine probably doesn't need the fuller flavor of the upgraded cheese. Nonetheless, it's still leaps and bounds better than the original.
Does the fact that I'm cuckoo for Chris make me incapable of judging Bianco Dinapoli impartially? Maybe, but smarter men than I like Pizzicletta's Caleb Schiff also swear by them, and more and more quality shops on the West coast are trading the high shipping costs of San Marzanos for the fresher tasting plums. I'm just happy I can finally get a great Margherita at Mozza...even if it leaves me with the slight aftertaste of gently getting mugged.
About the author: Lance Roberts is a writer in Los Angeles. A longtime fan of Slice, he joined as a contributor in 2012.