The precipice that led to the stars aligning perfectly last night at Pizzeria Mozza: a blind date. So, with sisters, boyfriends, and friends in tow, off we went to introduce the single, bilingual, and free-to-mingle sister to the unknown. As always, I was overjoyed to be dining at Pizzeria, and looking forward to my sister’s first time experience at the fine establishment. But also, I was told by my sister’s boyfriend (who is a Pizzeria staff member) that Chef Matt Molina might make a cameo appearance at our table. Not wanting to waste any time deliberating what we would order, I arrived with a mental list of all the items I wanted to try this time around. Still very much knowing that Chef Matt might surprise us any minute. Fifteen minutes into our dinner, JoseLuis goes to the restroom, only to return with news that, as Alicia Keys would say, set me on fire.
In a soft, not wanting to be embarrassed, tone of voice, JoseLuis leaned in to me and mentioned that he believed the gentleman sitting on the next table, directly next to JoseLuis, was Chef Marco Pierre White. Unfortunately, JoseLuis asked me not to look over at him; and unfortunately, that is exactly what I did – to his dismay. I just about lost it – actually, I did. But not in a bad way. More like something you’d see in an I Love Lucy episode, that in the end turns out to be comic relief, and memorable (of course not everyone shared this feeling). I was an anxious, nervous mess – but a happy, tipsy one at that. I kept drinking champagne and wine to boost my (already heightened) confidence to the limit and interrupt Chef Marco’s dinner. Fortunately for him, he walked out for a break. And thanks to the
bullying encouragement I received from my sisters, I was right behind him. I sat next to him and tapped him on the shoulder asking if he was Chef Marco Pierre White. He kindly replied, in an English accent, yes. I lost it AGAIN! Fireworks were going on inside because I knew it was him. I told him that I was a huge fan of his and it was a pleasure meeting him. Chef Marco asked me my name, I told him, and he thanked me.
I managed to somehow peel myself off the bench and make it back to my seat. I was elated. Can’t begin to describe the adrenaline rush. It was hard not to continue to look over at him. JoseLuis asked that I leave the poor man alone. I swear I didn’t hear JoseLuis say this to me. At this point, I was in my own world. The vortex was just too strong to stay away from. I was sucked in. Our food arrived and I was brought back to reality, sort of. Let me just say, the bone marrow was so good – my sister and I practically sucked on the bone with no care in the world. Growing up, mom always made Caldo de Res – and I always asked for extra bone marrow. Seasoned with lemon, salt, a sprinkling of fresh cilantro, and had with corn tortillas - it is the finest luxury one could have. I followed that with veal tongue – holy all things considered – did this appetizer deliver. Loved the way it was paired with mushrooms. These two dishes did it for me. I’ll have both all to myself next time – don’t want to share.
Giddy as I was, I forgot all about Chef Matt… until he arrived at our table! I wanted to jump out of my chair and run around the joint, while pulling my hair out. This was just waay too much for one night. I’d like to think of myself as someone who isn’t star struck. Clearly, I’m off kilter. Chef Matt was super cool, inviting, and welcoming. He chatted with us for a while, then excused himself to walk over to Osteria, next door. As he was walking towards Osteria, passing by the hostess’ area (situated perfectly behind our table), guess who stopped to ask Chef Matt if he knew us? None other than restaurateur and winemaker, MasterChef’s Joe Bastianich!!!! TRIFECTA! Santa Anita, here I come. This kind of luck comes only in spurts.
My single, bilingual, and free-to-mingle sister embarrassed me. She started screaming ‘oh my god’ (which I’m sure made Joe very happy) with her arms flailing towards him, with a final I love you! But if you can’t beat them, join them; the rest of us sisters followed in her footsteps and bolted out of our seats and towards Bastianich. He was really kind, collective, and at ease with us practically bulldozing him. We asked to take a picture with him and Chef Matt, and both happily obliged – patiently too, because our cameraman (JoseLuis) was having difficulty taking the picture. Bastianich asked if we were enjoying our meal, and approvingly we said YES!
We were all bursting at the seams with enthusiasm and adrenaline unknown to us before – at least the sisters. But before the evening ended, Chef Marco Pierre White gave me a wonderful compliment, as he made his way out again for a break. Chef Marco said I was a lovely lady. He also asked if we were enjoying our meal. You already know the answer to that. The night was magical; intoxicating. Until we meet again…