VENUE DETAILS

Mozza Mia Pizza Pie and Mozzarella Bar

Price:

$$

Cuisine Type:

Pizza

Serves:

Lunch, Dinner

Handicap Accessible:

No

Outdoor Seating:

Yes

Handicap Accessible:

No

Outdoor Seating:

Yes

Rating: One Star One Star Half Star No Star No Star

REVIEW

Friday night, and my friends and I dropped in for a quick, impromptu dinner at Mozza Mia before heading to the movies across the street. Viewed from an entertainment standpoint, we should have stayed put at the restaurant. Not that the movie was a stinker, but because watching chef Vittorio Renda at work is show enough.

Renda, an Energizer Bunny of a guy who has managed to live among chilly Minnesotans for nearly three decades without losing his sunny Italian disposition -- or his thicker-than-pesto accent -- has delivered to 50th and France what none of us never knew it needed, yet suddenly seems unthinkable to live without. And that's a decent pizzeria.

True, Renda had a little help from his longtime employer, Parasole Restaurant Holdings, and his colleague, chef Heather Brinker, who keeps the kitchen humming on a daily basis.

Mozza Mia feels like a switch from the company's usual something-for-everyone strategy, and it's a welcome one. Instead of a laundry list of middle-of-the-road crowd-pleasers, Renda's menu is relatively short and sharply focused, just pizza and a half-dozen fresh cheeses, bookended by a few salads, bruschettas, pastas and desserts. It's a marked departure from a company that has built a thriving business on appealing to the greatest common dining denominator. By embracing authenticity and slimming down its scope, Parasole has scored. Big.

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