Pizzeria Mozza (Downtown)


It has been almost exactly one year since Pizzeria Mozza opened in downtown San Diego. After a short stay, they are closing their doors at the end of the month on November 30th. According to their Facebook page, “the gospel of Mozza pizza did not adequately spread to the people of San Diego.” I wanted to put something up here for people on the fence who have never gone to the restaurant and were thinking of visiting before they closed. I believe a restaurant is only good as the food and service they provide. Most times you never even see the chef or kitchen staff working on your food. So to me I don’t really care what name is behind a restaurant. If the food tastes good I will usually come back. Personally, it is a treat to meet or catch a glimpse of the one behind a superb meal, famous or not. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with being able to associate a face to the food, almost like finding the last piece to a puzzle. Would Mario Batali surprise us and pop out of the kitchen? 

Pizzeria Mozza Collage 5

Even though they are closing in a little over a week, I had to stop by before that happened because I heard great things about the other location in LA. This was the first time Anh and I had dined at any Pizzeria Mozza so unfortunately, I can’t compare them. It also was only our second meal at The Headquarters at Seaport District. The only other time we came down here was for a dinner at Seasons 52. One can only postulate as to the reasons they are closing, but after our one experience I can take a stab at it. Their location is not ideal for a few reasons. Parking is pretty hard to come by at The Headquarters. I think valet is $15 and if you are lucky you can find metered parking by Seaport Village. There are a few free spots after 6:00pm on Pacific Highway, but those usually are filled up, especially on weekends. To me the area itself is a little touristy and doesn’t cater to people who actually live in San Diego. Distance-wise it isn’t that far from the cluster of other restaurants in the gaslamp, and maybe that is part of the problem. If you go to The Headquarters, you’ve pretty much made up your mind you are either going to Seasons 52, Puesto, The Cheesecake Factory, or Pizzeria Mozza. In the gaslamp, there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance, allowing for ample people watching opportunities along the way. I’ve never lived in downtown but I can imagine if there are say, five go to good restaurants within a ten minute walk of, I’d probably go to those many more times than say, one of equal caliber that is twenty minutes away. Another reason could be the service or food, but we can get into that later.

Pizzeria Mozza Collage 1

For a place about to close I thought it was pretty busy for a Thursday evening. This is just a guess, but I’m not sure how many of the people dining that evening knew that it wouldn’t be open in two weeks. We had reservations at 7:00pm and it took a while for the hostess to seat us. After they sorted their mixup with the couple ahead of us we took our seats.


Ordering cauliflower here doubled my lifetime output. We had a really tasty cauliflower dish from Toast Enoteca & Cucina recently which made me overly optimistic about it. This may have put me back to where I was before Toast Enoteca & Cucina. It appeared as if it was sitting somewhere for fifteen minutes and then served to us. The cauliflower all stuck together so it was like one giant ball you had to pick at and break apart. The sauce was fairly tasty and appeared to be yoghurt based. Who am I kidding? Deep down I was missing that tomato sauce and gooey cheese on top.
Pizzeria Mozza Collage 2

The meatballs were another story. They were meaty, dense, juicy, and flavorful. Both of the appetizers came out at the same time so I can only guess that they finished the cauliflower way before the meatballs and it sat somewhere until both could be delivered. The only thing I could ask for was more of it as the three that came out were not very large.

Pizzeria Mozza Collage 3

We were here for the pizza! We went with the Margherita with bufala mozzarella, tomato, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. It looked great and every part of us wanted to love this $20 pie. Sauce, check. Cheese, check. Crust, fail. The middle was a giant mushy puddle that had no texture or well, crust. I like my pizzas to be bursting with tomato sauce but the crust has to be able to keep it all together. I’ve never had their pizza before so I don’t know if this was by design, but I can’t imagine that’s how they normally serve it. There has to be at least a little bit of crispiness to it. If we held a piece up in the air for five seconds all of the toppings would fall onto the plate.
Pizzeria Mozza Collage 4

Service was okay. It wasn’t particularly fast, nor did they check on us very often. But we didn’t need anything extra so it didn’t really matter. I just wish the food was as good as advertised from other friends and family. It’s too bad. I wanted to be blown away and have regrets of not coming by sooner. Would I have had a different experience had I come six months prior? I will never know, and only they know the real reason why they gave up on their San Diego location. We’ll see how long it takes me to get up to the LA location…

Pizzeria Mozza
789 West Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
Pizzeria Mozza on Urbanspoon

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About Darren

Fooood! I love it if you can't tell already. I love everything about it. The taste, the smell, the look, the feel, the satisfaction, the gratification, and ultimately: the fun! I've been in San Diego for about 10 years now and it amazes me that there are still places to uncover. Traveling, eating, and taking pictures of food has always been a hobby of mine. So naturally Michael and I thought it made sense to share what we found with all of you. I tend to side with the savory but never shy away from a knock out dessert. If you have a place you think we haven't tried let us know! We're always on the lookout...

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4 Comments on “Pizzeria Mozza (Downtown)”

  1. Pizzeria Mozza is very closely related Napolitanean style pizza which means that it will always have “soft” middle. If the middle would have any crust it would definitely be overcooked. Classical Napolitanean style is always eaten with fork and knife and so nobody would pick it up and no ingredients/toppings would fall off. If you are in LA try Osteria Mozza instead of the pizzeria – there now several good places in SD to get classical Napolitanean style pizza but nothing to get authentic Italian as Osteria Mozza.

    1. That helps clear things up a bit! I’m sure I’ve had this style of pizza before, I think Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix offers this which I’ve visited. It might be most places I have been to cater towards the more “accepted” American style pizza crusts because of complainer butts like me. Perhaps it is something I have to try more often and get an appreciation for. Osteria Mozza will jump up on the list of places to try. Thanks!

  2. Try Pizzeria Bruno (University Heights), Caffe Calabria (North Park, only in the evening but during the day one of the best second wave coffee shops in SD), Blue Ribbon Pizzeria (Encinitas) or Buona Forchetta (South Park) for good variations on this style in SD

    1. I’ve tried Buona Forchetta and wasn’t a huge fan so maybe this type of pizza isn’t my thing. When we had it their crust wasn’t as wet as Mozza’s. But I will give the other places a shot and see if we can crack the code. Thanks for the recs!

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