Pizzeria Mozza will keep alcohol permit

No need to stash the Sambuca.

The Newport Beach Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday to allow Pizzeria Mozza to keep its alcohol permit.

One of the commissioners had appealed the original permit for celebrity chef Mario Batali’s new eatery, apparently to make a statement about democracy. He argued that all businesses applying to serve alcohol should be subject to a public hearing if their restaurant or bar is adjacent to homes. As the process stands, such decisions can be made by a city staff member.

“At least the public had an opportunity [to comment],” said Commissioner Robert Hawkins, who appealed the original decision to grant the permit, but then voted to uphold that decision.

Just one member of the public commented at the Planning Commission meeting to support Mozza.

Some City Council members have criticized the appeal as anti-business, and said such applications should be expedited, especially during the slow economy. Councilwoman Leslie Daigle praised the commission’s decision.

—Mike Reicher

Twitter: @mreicher