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Navigating the wine list: Pizzeria Mozza

Best value on the Pizzeria Mozza wine list may be the wines by quartino, or quarter liter.

When Pizzeria Mozza opened just under 10 years ago, the wine list mantra was 50 wines under $50 — and all of them Italian. As sommeliers have come and gone, that policy has softened a bit. The current list, which is 37 entries at the moment, features bottles from $38 to $87 — and one of the bottles at that high end is co-owner Joe Bastianch’s “Vespa Bianco,” a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli. 

Today, just nine — or about a quarter — of the wines on the all-Italian list are $50 or under, and markups are fairly high. The Pizzeria list is just a baby compared with the 70-page list at the Osteria next door, which goes deep into reds from Piedmont, the Veneto, Tuscany, Campania and more.

At the bottom of the Pizzeria's one-page bottle list is an asterisk and the words “Please inquire about the Riserva list.” That's a list of five specially chosen high-end wines, including the 2012 Marisa Cuomo "Furore" from the Amalfi Coast ($140) and the 2008 Fontodi "Vigna del Sorbo" from Tuscany ($250). 

Wine list’s motto: Save water, drink wine

Focus of the list: Italian

Authors: Mozza Group beverage director Sarah Clarke and Pizzeria sommeliers Kyle Billings and Alena Truong 

Number of selections: 37 wines by the bottle, plus two dozen more by the "quartino" or quarter liter.

How it's organized: By vini spumanti e frizzanti (sparkling wines), vini bianchi (white wines), vino rosato (rosé) and vini rossi (red wines) 

How helpful is the list: It offers only the most basic information: vintage, producer, name of the wine, region. If you want advice, there’s always a sommelier, if not two or three, on hand, to answer any questions.

Wines by the glass program: Here, it's actually a wine by the “quartino” or quarter liter, i.e. 250 ml, which is basically a third of a bottle. The wine comes in a small carafe so you can pour it yourself.  The 23 current selections are priced from $11 to $22 and include five vini dolci or sweet wines. They're a good deal if you consider that you're getting the equivalent of two pours.

Best wine by the quartino: 2013 La Mozza Morellino di Scansano “I Perazzi” from Tuscany (and the Bastianich family). Or the slightly fizzy Rinaldini Lambrusco “Pronto” from Emilia-Romagna, which is great with pizza topped with sausage or salumi.

Best red wine value: 2011 Bocale Montefalco Rosso from Umbria, $55

Best white wine value: 2013 Brovia Roero Arneis from Piemonte, $58

Red wine worth a splurge: 2011 La Spinetta Nebbiolo “Campe della Spinetta” from Piedmont, $80

White wine worth a splurge: Di Prisco Greco di Tufo “Pietra Rosa” from Campania, $68

Corkage policy: $30 per bottle, with a maximum of two 750 ml bottles. If you happen to have a bottle of 2001 Luciano Sandrone Barolo in your cellar, bring it and pay the $30 corkage.

Pizzeria Mozza, 641 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 297-0101, la.pizzeriamozza.com.

Follow @sirenevirbila for more on food and wine.

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