Each week we present our most delicious bite.
This week, the MIXED MUSHROOM PIZZA with fontina, Parmigiano Reggiano & thyme at Milo & Olive in Santa Monica, California.
We’ve enjoyed a great deal of delicious pizza over the last few years. One might say that L.A. is a bit spoiled for pizza. There are quite literally dozens of high end, gourmet pizza joints in this town. And we’ve tried them all. Milo & Olive presents a small quandary, however. It is a tiny space. Very tiny. So tiny, in fact, that I have never once driven by without seeing a line of waiting diners, and most times I continue to drive past for that reason. My mistake.
I’ve been here before, and I’ve enjoyed very good meals here before. This past week, however, presented a dining experience in which every element came together in one of those magical, mythical experiences of restaurant excellence.
When we ordered, the very efficient server informed us that the pizza would take up to twenty minutes to prepare, and asked politely if we’d like to add a starter. When I responded that there were pizza places in town that could cook my pie in under a minute, he quite cleverly responded with “Well, that’s just disgusting!” And on that hilarious note, we chose to start with a bottle of Rose to steady us until dinner arrived and to keep the good humor intact. Our plan worked beautifully!
At $20 a pop, this is no cheap pie. It is, in fact, that most expensive on the menu. Interesting, considering the other choices of Shrimp, La Quercia prosciutto, and pork belly sausage. One bite in, however, and the reason became very clear. This was no ordinary mix of mushroom. My mind raced back a couple of decades to the fine dining tables that served Mushroom Duxelles – the glory days in which chefs discovered all new ways to make healthy ingredients decadent and as unhealthy as possible. Although this was not exactly that preparation, it was that glorious mix of exotic mushrooms – the flavors were so rich and bold that it was as if a taste memory had resurfaced. The funk of the mushroom, the earthiness of the fontina, a hint of thyme, with an excellent Parmigiano Reggiano grated on top made for the perfect pie.
I ate three of the four slices. The next morning, I discovered the fourth in my refrigerator. It was devoured cold, slowly, with both eyes closed and a smile. Hands down, this was the best mushroom pizza I have ever enjoyed. Ever. Add attentive, professional service and good company – one of the absolute most enjoyable dinners in a very long while.
If you don’t have plans later in the evening, as we did, start off with the Garlic Knot. A giant fist of garlic, wrapped in dough and baked in the pizza oven. Pure garlic heaven, but only if you have mints at the ready and the guarantee that no one will be within three feet of you for the remainder of the night. Oh, and it takes twenty minutes to prepare, as well. I highly recommend the rose to fill the gap.