Small and cute and unusually bright and cheerful for the otherwise darker and scruffier Via Del Pratello, this is my current The Place. I used to call it Alimentare Watson (a pun inspired by the iconic – and never actually pronounced – Sherlock Holmes’ motto «Elementary, my dear Watson»), because that was what was written on the sign last time I checked. But I found out that it’s actually called Mozzabella (Mozzarella + Bella…) and that they like to change the upper signs from time to time. Yes, always with famous phrases slightly modified so that they have some food reference. But despite its fervent taste for gastro-puns, this is one of those venues where you just keep going. Mostly because of its pizza.
Pizza al taglio, in the street tradition of Rome, means slices you eat on the go and little shops you can find on every corner of the Capital. But for decades Bologna has been totally oblivious of it, only relying on the traditional, extra-soft and rather “unpizza-like” products of historic Altero, a street pizza place young students used to go to when skipping school (well, at least I used to go: still a darling of a place). Luckily though, within the last half decade, the hype of street food culture brought some healthy curiosity even in a town as conservative and anti-exotic as Bologna is when it comes to food, and some new places (like the uber good Pizzartist), clearly inspired by the glorious tradition of Rome, began to pop up.
Mozzabella is the latest in this lineage and the prettiest. Here you can both take away or eat in, and if you opt for the second you will enjoy a cosy and colourful atmosphere. What is more important though is the food. Unlike the traditional pizza al taglio of Rome, usually devoted to the Holy Triad “Rossa”, “Bianca con mortazza” and “Margherita” (plus the usual suspects “Con le patate” and “Marinara”), the Mozzabella guys love to mix and mach, and have quite good taste in doing so. Margherita plus puntarelle (a long, chewy and very fresh variant of chicory) and anchovies, or Pumpkin, pecorino cheese, savoy cabbage and Calabrian salami, or “Red” with fior di latte burrata, smoked ham and basil. Also vegetarians and vegans are provided with solid options: chick peas puree and chard, or pumpkin puree, stracchino cheese and purple potato, just to name a few.
All pizza are made from organic wheat. You can also find a small but eclectic variety of other traditional Italian dishes on rotation, mostly from the South. I was lucky enough to find the luxurious “timballo di anelletti” from Palermo (a masterpiece of little rings of pasta cooked in the oven with tomato, scamorza cheese, peas and lot more, all wrapped in a blanket of aubergine) and the lovely “maritozzi” of Rome, a simple and gigantic sweet pastry filled with freshly wipped cream. They have a small selection of artisanal beers (you just help yourself on the fridge) and some rather good homemade bread. About that, here’s little tip: if you go late in the evening, when they’re about to close, they are likely to give you a full loaf of bread, since they are not allowed to sell it the following day but it is actually really good for another couple of days at least. A lovely gesture that makes you go away with an extra smile.