There is nothing in the whole wide world like fresh mozzarella. The clinging moistness of it yielding under your teeth and coating your tongue with creaminess, the whey dripping from the cheese and whetting your palate. Fresh mozzarella is pure, perfect with a slight sprinkle of salt, springy and graciously light. Mozz, on 445 Market Street, has a fresh mozzarella bar using local ingredients, and I visited on a weeknight with some friends to test the merits of their cheese and their cocktails.
We were utterly desperate to try the Mozzarella bar, so we sampled the Bufala, Burrata and Fior di Latte for $18, with accompanying Cicchetti Condiments. We got a giant tasting of cured meats ($25 for slivers of capicolla, hot capicolla, mortadella, sopprasata, hot sopprasata, prosciutto di parma, grand reserve pepperoni, and genoa salami) and the duck fat fries, $6, the spicy mussels, $14, and a few cocktails. The standout of the evening was the Bufala mozzarella, made with the milk of water buffalo. The Bufala was firm with a texture like black olives. The best mozzarella, in my opinion, was the Burrata. Burrata means “buttered” and the hunk of soft cheese encased a creamy center, silky as butterfat.
The cured meats were perfectly respectable and the mussels were well cooked. The duck fat fries were fabulous, but how could you possibly do a duck fat fry wrong? Cocktails were strong and service was attentive, if a tad slow.
Truthfully, we found Mozz to be a little overdone. The abundance of glassware, ostrich feathers, the patterned blinds, the opulent foyer; it was all a bit too boudoir. Truthfully, I would have preferred a cheaper drink ($12 for the Mozz cocktail, really?) and more reasonable prices all around, even if it meant I had to park the car myself and take in a few less ostrich plumes. The gripes aside, I certainly wish more restaurants had cheese bars like Mozz, and I wish all restaurants served mozzarella like Mozz does.
photos: Elizabeth Orrick