Pizzeria Mozza

Rating: ***

Location: 641 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 297-0101; www.mozza-la.com.

Ambience: Lively, simpatica pizzeria from the partnership of Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton featuring Silverton's irresistible pizzas baked in a clay wood-burning oven. If you can't snag a reservation, try for a spot at the pizza bar or the wine bar, but sometimes it can be a long wait: Nobody wants to give up their seat at this new restaurant at the corner of Melrose and Highland Avenues.

Service: Some of the best around -- engaged, informed, friendly.

Price: Antipasti, $8; salads, $8 to $15; salumi, $12 to $24 for a mixed platter; pizza, $9 to $17; bruschette, $3 to $9; panini, $14 to $15; piatti del giorno, $17 to about $24 (market price); desserts, $5 to $8.

Best dishes: Fried squash blossoms, marinated peppers, winter caprese, Nancy's chopped salad, chicken liver bruschetta, fennel sausage pizza, littleneck clam pizza, wild nettle pizza, egg and radicchio pizza, mixed mushroom pizza, Meyer lemon gelato pie, sorbetti and gelati, toasted almond biscotti.

Wine list: Fifty Italian wines under $50, plus wines by the glass or quartino (one-fourth liter); corkage fee, $20.

Best table: A seat at the pizza counter, where you can watch the action.

Details: Open noon to midnight daily. Beer and wine. Valet parking, $6.

Rating is based on food, service and ambience, with price taken into account in relation to quality. ****: Outstanding on every level. ***: Excellent. **: Very good. *: Good. No star: Poor to satisfactory.