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I thought I was dreaming Tuesday night when I ended up at one of the best pizza houses in LA.  Completely random and totally unexpected, I was caught off guard when I was asked to have dinner with a co-worker and fellow foodie on a night I was planning on playing hockey. I altered my schedule and gladly accepted the invitation, excited about the change of pace and the prospects of a great meal before the middle of the week.

I never saw Pizzeria Mozza on the horizon; we had originally slated a Thai restaurant nearby to be our post-work destination. We made our way to Culver City with Riesling in hand, to eat at Thai Boom—a well reviewed Westside Thai establishment—but were bested by faulty directions and unable to find it. After a few passes on the busy roads we gave up, flummoxed, calling an audible by selecting a pizza restaurant that was not too far away. As we backtracked to Westwood, we made a pit stop at my place to exchange the Riesling for an Italian red. We arrived at 800 Degrees with a seven-fifty of Rosso Conero from the Marche region of Italy. We scanned the place but it was not to our liking, we called snobbery on our decision to skip the pizzeria because it reminded us of a Subway. By this time it was getting late (10:15 pm) and our options were all but exhausted because of the waning business hours in the night. Restaurants were dropping like flies as we put our heads together to figure out a resolution… and then it happened. It was almost magical; she insisted that we head out to Pizzeria Mozza. The suggestion clicked, Mozza met all of our qualifications since it was open late and had a sterling reputation for pizza. We b-lined it, calling in a table, and arriving on the corner of Melrose and Highland Avenue just twenty minutes later.

The night was filled with many surprises for both of us. She learned on the car ride over that it was my first time at a the vaunted pizzeria that she had been to frequently, in fact, more than she could count on all of her phalanges. Once we were seated she guided me through the menu ordering many of her favorites. Dishes of bone marrow, Nancy’s chopped salad, squash blossoms, and two pizzas—a withering array of food for just two people to sort out. In addition to the food, we actually ordered an additional bottle of wine—Falanghina from Campania—to accompany our Rosso Conero. The plates came out almost on top of each other; suddenly we were out of real estate on our bantam table. We sipped and ate, to take advantage of the overwhelming flavors heaped in front of us, in the foods, as well as the wines.

The Falanghina was intensely aromatic; pretty notes of flowers and fresh fruits exploded, presenting a nicely balanced wine that paired well with the chopped salad and squash blossoms. Switching up with the heavier fare, the Montepulciano and Sangiovese blend offered dusty red fruits and cupboard spices with enough acidity to partner with the balance of the food. The pizza exceeded expectations. Its crust was ethereal and the fresh toppings and spiced sausage brought out the licorice and cinnamon nuances in the red from Le Marche.

After a sumptuous feast and a savory dessert we called it an evening. Pizzeria Mozza had secured its spot as eatery of the month and we all but forget about the Thai food that could have been. I was able to explore less common wine regions, sample a lot of great food and share an interesting evening with a new friend. However, I was in store for one more major surprise as the bill came—she treated me! I lost the arm wrestling match for the check, shocked by the generosity of an epicure. It went down as a remarkable Tuesday and I even had leftovers.

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