Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton's osteria and pizzeria share a street corner, but their true link is chef Matt Molina's fearless culinary approach at both. The osteria aims for big-city elegance (without any schmaltzy Rat Pack appeals), finding space in the dining room for a marble bar devoted to the liqueur Amaro as well as an Italian cheese counter where you can order as little as burricotta with radicchio. But most people opt for more, delighting in lacquered sweetbread piccata or short ribs with fresh horseradish grated tableside. Next door it's about wood-fired pizzas with billowing thin crusts that counterpoint such hearty toppings as stinging nettles and fennel sausage.
Best Date Spot for a Vegetarian and a Meat Lover, August 2009
The idea of consuming anything that once had eyes and a beating heart makes him sick, and just the sound of the word tofurkey has her running into the ladies' loo. Where to find a happy medium? Not at a steak house: The meat lover is appeased, but the veggie lover gets stuck with yet another baked-potato-and-steamed-broccoli plate. At Pizzeria Mozza in Mid City, more than a dozen splendid antipasti appeal equally to vegetarians (marinated beets with horseradish, fried squash blossoms with ricotta) and carnivores (meatballs al forno, asparagus with speck). While the restaurant is famous for its pizzas, it is hardly precious about them; just ask, and the kitchen will whip up a vegetarian version of the egg, guanciale, and radicchio pie or leave the bacon off the goat cheese and leek. And if there's a more romantic dessert experience in town than sharing that butterscotch budino, let us know.
Best Beet Appetizer, March 2007
We've seen the beet-goat-cheese-frisée salad, and variations thereon, pretty much everywhere. Most are quite tasty, and some—particularly those studded with the golden and orange varieties of Beta vulgaris —are quite fetching in appearance. The beet appetizer concocted by Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina at Pizzeria Mozza, on the other hand, isn't much to look at: irregular chunks of roasted red beets piled in a standard-issue water glass. But the taste? Phenomenal. Tossed with a mixture of pureed fresh horseradish, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, shallots, and salt, they hit every flavor note.