Nancy Silverton's Legendary Grilled Cheeses Are Taking Over Pizzeria Mozza
The L.A. chef’s new late-night menu at Pizzeria Mozza includes five grilled cheeses. They’re available at Pizzeria Mozza’s bar from 10 p.m. to midnight Sundays through Wednesdays, You can also get them all day on Thursdays. (Silverton’s legendary grilled-cheese nights at Campanile used to happen on Thursdays.)
The menu starts with the classico, also known as Caryl’s grilled cheese. (Caryl is Caryl Kim, a good friend of Silverton’s who helped her launch Campanile’s grilled-cheese nights). The classico is an old Campanile favorite that has gruyère, onions, and whole-grain mustard. But Silverton is updating the sandwich by sprinkling caraway seeds on the outside. She got the idea for that after an event at Pizzeria Mozza last week, when she added caraway seeds to grilled cheeses made with brisket from Burt Bakman of Trudy’s Underground Barbecue and Slab.
Also on the menu are the signore and signorina, which are Silverton’s versions of a croque monsieur and croque madame that are made with prosciutto cotto. There’s also Ruth’s grilled cheese, a sandwich with white cheddar, scallion, shallot, horseradish, and the option to add bacon. That’s inspired by Silverton’s friend Ruth Reichl.
There’s also an open-faced option topped with a riff on pimento cheese that includes smoked gouda, cheddar, and peppers. Silverton says she wasn’t sure about this one at first, but then chef de cuisine Herbie Yuen added pickled celery, she added fried celery leaves, and “it became delicious.”
Silverton decided to go full-on with a grilled-cheese menu after seeing around 400 people show up to a one-night grilled-cheese dinner she did in November at Republique, the restaurant that now inhabits the space where Campanile was. Plus, she had recently put a snack-size version of Ruth’s grilled cheese on Pizzeria Mozza’s menu and noticed how popular it was.
“When we looked at our sales off the late-night menu, 90 percent was that grilled cheese,” she says.
The Republique night made her realize that a lot of people would be happy to have a full-size grilled cheese. So now she’s serving big sandwiches, which come with an arugula salad but not the fries she had at Campanile.
Meanwhile, La Brea Bakery, which Silverton co-founded in 1989 and sold in 2001, has just announced its own grilled-cheese nights that start next Thursday. Silverton is totally fine with that. In fact, she recently started working with La Brea Bakery to create some special-edition breads, including par-baked items that go to grocery stores. She’s also developing breads that will be be available at La Brea Bakery’s flagship location, which has recently undergone a renovation that includes a new oven.
So a lot of what Silverton is doing now is a nod to her glorious past. But she’s still very much a chef who likes to try new things.
“We’re going to keep them on for a while since we just started,” Silverton says of her five grilled cheeses at Pizzeria Mozza. “We’re going to wait and let people get addicted to them, and then we’ll mess it up and change some things.”
Pizzeria Mozza, 641 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, 323-297-0101