The first mozzarella bar in the world was a Japanese-Italian hybrid, Obika, opened in Rome by some Japanese businessmen intent on serving the freshest, best mozzarella, made from the milk of free-ranging water buffaloes. The second big thing in the world of mozzarella bars was Osteria Mozza, a Los Angeles restaurant collaboration between super-baker Nancy Silverton (of La Brea Bakery fame), super-chef Mario Batali, and super-wine-guy Joseph Bastianich. And now, the third big thing has happened in mozzarella bars: Mozza Mia has debuted in Edina.
So, how would you like to judge Mozza Mia: against mozzarella bars in Los Angeles and Rome, or against Edina restaurants? Let’s do both. First, know that mozzarella bars are not like sushi bars—there aren’t that many different varieties. Typically you’re only going to taste a very few pristine and perfect mozzarellas, and then you have some wine, antipasti, perhaps pizza, and—check please! On my visits, Mozza Mia’s mozzarella was nothing special—just cold, fresh, plain cheese, with none of the floral accents and herbaceousness of really great fresh cheese (which I think would be obtainable for a chef using a local dairy like Cedar Summit or Crystal Ball Farms). So, Mozza Mia has not made Rome and Los Angeles obsolete. Too bad.
Compared to other restaurants in Edina, however, Mozza Mia is fantastic. The combinations, like fresh mozzarella with arugula and La Quercia prosciutto, are light and scrumptious. The wood-fired pizzas— like a briny and smoky combination of lamb sausage, green olives, and feta— are good enough to crave. The wine list consists of bold, spicy, well-priced table wine thoughtfully chosen to go with a jeans-and-movie date night. While there’s plenty to quibble over—it’s terrifically loud and the desserts are generic—it’s also the best cheap and casual Italian joint in the southwest metro. When in Rome, do as the Romans do and go to Obika. When in Edina, count your blessings for a little taste of Japanese-Italian fusion perking up the pizza scene. 3910 W. 50th St., Edina, 952-288-2882, mozzamia.com