Considering the chef, Nancy Silverton, was just honored with a James Beard award, which is especially rare for LA (1998 was the last time, given to Wolfgang Puck), I felt compelled to make this my next review.
Now, I have actually eaten in two locations. The one in Newport Beach and the one in L.A. and while both were very good, I think the edge has to go to the original in LA. Partly do to the energy of the place. The vibe is so lively and fun you almost can’t help but enjoy yourself. Whereas the Newport Beach location feels a bit more highfalutin, which is odd for a pizza joint. But I’m guessing if you live in Newport Beach, a Batali restaurant is a pretty big deal.
Now, in terms of pizza in general, sad to say it, but California is woefully behind the rest of the country. Sure they brought us the whole California-style pizza thing, but if you want something more than toppings. If you want a sound foundation of sauce and crust, you used to have to hop on a plane. Well, not anymore.
Sure, you still have you fancy California toppings like the squash blossom pizza, which is friggin’ yum, but you also have your staples like funghi and quattro fromaggi and margherita- done with a culinary twist of course. But perhaps the true belle of the ball is the blanca pie with fennel sausage. Plus, everything is served with a staggeringly good selection of wines by the glass (and bottle) as well as birre.
Also, I just want to give a shout out to service as well. In both locations they were friendly, down-to-earth, helpful and attentive. The highfalutin thing in Newport only came from the crowd and the bar.
So, congrats Nancy. Much deserved. I’ve been a fan dating back to when Campanile was still in business. RIP.
P.S. This review does not include Osteria Mozza next door, which pales in comparison. Skip it. Trust me.