Baby back ribs are an unusual dish to encounter at a pizzeria; but then again, nothing about Pizzeria Mozza is usual.
The new Wednesday-night special is one of the most surprising and satisfying changes to the piatto del giorno (plate of the day) menu since the restaurant opened.
To be clear: This is not barbecue. These ribs don't have a perfect smoke ring, nor do they fall off the bone. Instead, they're spicy, sweet, tender and addictively meaty, based on an Italian recipe perfected by chefs Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina. It almost tastes like Mozza 2 Go's porchetta, only this meat is on the bone.
The baby backs come from Oregon's Hill Meat Company, whose pork products are prized by many chefs. They're brined to help flavor and tenderize the meat, then rubbed with fennel seeds, black pepper and various herbs. Once doused in apple cider and honey, they're cooked "slow and low" in a conventional oven, then blasted in the wood-burning pizza oven for a crispy exterior.
Swabbed with extra sweet-and-savory sauce, the half-rack ($20) gets cut into finger-friendly riblets and comes with creamy apple-cabbage slaw. Grab extra napkins: They're messy. And if you're lucky enough to have leftovers, the ribs are even great cold.
Although the pizzeria's daily specials are available from noon until midnight, don't be surprised if this one sells out early.
Pizzeria Mozza, 641 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles; 323-297-0101 or mozza-la.com
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