Nancy Silverton’s Mozza Empire

Nancy Silverton is the esteemed founder of La Brea Bakery and the restaurant Campanile in Los Angeles. She also owns two of Los Angeles’ most popular restaurants, Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza, along with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, and she just published her eighth book, “The Mozza Cookbook.”

Born and bred in the San Fernando Valley, Silverton, 57, is a small woman with huge ambition. She is the mother of three children, divorced since 2007 from Mark Peel (executive chef at Campanile), she made $6 million from the sale of La Brea Bakery in 2001 when she entrusted it to an investor in investor in Beverly Hills (who subsequently entrusted it to Bernard L. Madoff – resulting in Silverton losing everything).

But that was years ago and as all good business people learn, you have to move on. The inspiration for all things Mozza in Silverton’s life (osteria, pizzeria, book) was a lunch she served to chef Jeremiah Tower at her home in Umbria. She was inspired at a market by all the cheese, buying an array of mozzarella and burrata, serving it with a variety of condiments. When Tower told her about Òbikà, the mozzarella bar that originated in Rome, she remembers “it was the cheese version of sushi and what I liked so much was the focus on one thing, basing a restaurant on mozzarella.”

Despite some American mozzarella being somewhat bland, in Italy Silverton saw endless possibilities. “Òbikà had salad-y things accompanying the dish,” she said. “But I saw that mozzarella had life of its own that didn’t have to be Caprese. I started laying in other flavors.”

Batali was a bit hesitant when Silverton presented her idea about investing in Los Angeles restaurants due to the show-biz crowd who constantly watch what they eat, but he loved the concept of Mozza. Pizzeria Mozza opened in 2007 and Osteria Mozza opened in 2008. There is now a Mozza cooking school and a takeout shop. Mozza branches have opened in Singapore and Newport Beach, California.

Source: New York Times

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