By Robin Garr
I’m pretty sure I’ve told you before that pizza is one of my favorite foods. I can’t think of a one of Louisville’s 60-some pizzerias that I would flatly reject. Well, possibly some of the national chains, unless I was really hungry.
I mean, what’s not to like about pizza? It’s relatively healthy, a thin base of bread that, excepting the occasional deep-dish pie, imparts barely enough carbs to bother anyone. A layer of delicious tomato sauce, a layer of delicious cheese, some tasty meats or veggies of your liking on top … why, you’ve got all of the food groups on your plate!
So what’s my favorite pizza in town? I get that question a lot, but I don’t have an easy answer. Coal-fired and wood-fired pizzas appeal, but a proper gas-fired or electric pizza oven with a brick or concrete deck can absolutely get the job done.
Of course I love thin-crust New York City or Italian style, but I won’t say no to a slightly thicker crust, or even, on occasion, for the deep-dish styles of Chicago and Detroit.
A great pizza, after all, is as much about the bread as it is about the sauce, the cheese, and the toppings. To make me truly happy, pizza crust should have the heft, the bubbly texture and crisp exterior, and the good wheat flavor of an artisanal loaf. If you don’t have that excellent base, the rest of the pizza can hardly excel.
When it comes to great bread in a Louisville pizza, it’s hard to beat MozzaPi, happily reopened post-pandemic in its original quarters on the east side of Anchorage. Describing itself as an artisan pizzeria and bakery, MozzaPi takes pride in making its breads and pizza dough with sustainable, organic, locally farmed ancient grains freshly stone-milled in house. It’s tough to get more serious about your bread than that.
“The new pizza paradigm is all about balance,” MozzaPi declares on its website. “Artfully balancing the crust with the toppings, balancing the flavors with the textures, balancing local with seasonal ingredients. It is really about taking natural, healthy ingredients and preparing them in a way that is simple and satisfying.”
Yum! Just reading that makes me want pizza right now.
The current menu is about as simple as it gets: Seven speciality pizzas, all nine-inchers, all $14; or classic build-your-own pies with cheese ($11), pepperoni, or sausage (both $12), plus $2.50 per meat topping, $1.50 per veggie topping, 75 cents for extra cheese, and $2.50 if you need a gluten-free crust. A dinner-size house salad or a stunningly good kale salad are $13 each. A side of excellent foccacia is $5, a side salad $6, and for dessert, a cookie fresh from the oven is $3.
I made a healthy choice, right, with MozzaPi’s spinach and ricotta pizza ($14), pictured at the top of the page. A beautiful crust, golden and covered with leopard spots from the oven, was coated with just enough spicy, fresh-made tomato sauce and red-pepper flakes, topped with a thick blanket of fresh baby spinach, and finished with rounds of mozzarella and creamy ricotta cheese. The spinach didn’t wilt, so it was almost like a spinach salad pizza with cheese.
I would definitely try it again, but before I get back to it I’ve got to try some of the other offbeat topping combos first. Sweet onion marmalade pizza, for instance, with blue cheese, andouille sausage, bourbon cherries and rosemary. Or spicy giardiniera pizza with pepperoni, roasted red peppers, onion and celery, and spicy serrano peppers. Or .. or … yeah, I love these pizzas.
Kale salad ($13) was perfect. Plenty of chopped kale was gently massaged with olive oil and lemon dressing, then garnished with grape tomatoes, toasted walnuts, sunflower seeds, and Parmesan slices. Fresh-baked rosemary focaccia on the side added a welcome touch.
A side house salad ($6) had potential, too, a good concept marrying mixed spring lettuces and baby spinach with cherry tomatoes, graded carrot and chopped cucumber and slices of parm, with an appetizing Dijon mustard and lemon dressing. That’s a lot to like, but it was flawed by a pet peeve: Blackened edges on a few lettuce bits that should have been discarded.
For what it’s worth, though the owner and a staff of three were extremely busy handling the register, the kitchen, and running food on a very busy day. They got so much right under trying circumstances that I can’t fault them much for this small slip.
We finished with one of favorite cookies, a sweet, coarse-grained corn cookie ($3) made from fresh-ground yellow cornmeal and baked to order. It was so good that I ordered two more to go.
Our meal for two was $38.16, plus 22 percent tip.
Noise Level: The dining room was almost full for a Saturday lunch, and with songs like Katy Perry’s Firework on the sound system, noise levels peaked at 78dB, about the level of a home vacuum cleaner.
Accessibility: The dining room is level and appears accessible to wheelchair users, but the main entrance door is large and heavy and sticks at the bottom.