Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cowardly Lion: Pizzeria Mozza Going to New York... Airport

Today the internet is aflutter with the news that LA's own Pizzeria Mozza will be opening a New York outpost. While most Los Angelenos and New Yorkers alike joyously frolic in the streets over the announcement, I must admit I'm a little bummed out. Not 49ers-lose-the-Super-Bowl bummed out, just a they-are-really-making-a-"Beverly Hills Cop"-CBS-show bummed out. You see, the new Mozza will not be opening in Manhattan. Or Brooklyn. Or the other boroughs whose names I can't remember. The Mozza will be located... in the international terminal of JFK airport. 

And while it's all fine and dandy to know there will now be a world class eating establishment next time I fly out of NYC to Ankara, that doesn't mean this isn't a little bit of a letdown. Most LA pizza is "good... for LA." Mozza is "good... for good." It's literally one of, if not the best, in the country. Off the top of my head, the only pie I've ever had that transcends it came from Phoenix's Pizzeria Bianco. So, the stubborn Los Angeleno in me really wanted it to come to the Manhattan streets and fight mano a mano in the world's best pizza city. Just the thought of an Los Angeles pizza joint putting Manhattanites in a tizzy sounds like a bad Onion article. Mozza could do that though.

Rather, they sort of took the cowardly route. As they've done with their other branches. Orange County is as famously known for its genetic breasts as it is for its horrendous 'za. Singapore? I've never been, but I'm willing to gander there isn't a ton of high level Western pizza in the neighborhood. Even San Diego, their next location, while flush with decent shops, will most certainly welcome Mozza with open arms. So, for Mozza to finally expand back east, but in such a controlled sense, really chaps my ass a bit. I know NYC rent is astronomical. I know a name restaurant opening in a busy airport is basically like printing money. But I also know airport branches of popular spots very often do not live up to the original and no one really cares because it's a helluva lot better than most airport options. In opening at JFK, Mozza is almost giving itself a free pass with New Yorkers. Love it? Great. Don't think it's as good as what you got? This is an airport - there are limitations.

My only true hope about all this is the international terminal location will do gangbusters and in a year or two the internet will be abuzz with news of the Brooklyn Mozza coming soon. 

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