She takes a forkful of salty peanut butter gelato at Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach and nods. Then nods again. Then nods again. Then nods a fourth time. Then, in the rarest of all food compliments, Nancy Silverton nods a fifth time, and says "It's good."
Let them have their three Michelin stars, the four from the New York Times. Five nods from Nancy, that's the ultimate.
I'd have given it five nods, too, if I wasn't preoccupied relishing this extraordinary gelato, which was listed as "peanut butter" this Sunday, but will be changed to "salty peanut butter" because that is what it is. I told chef Emily Corlis that this stuff crept right up to the salt limit wall, but didn't go over, Corlis concurred, saying she "One more grain and it would have been too salty."
But, it's not just the saltiness. It is the creaminess, the pure essence of peanut butter taste that make this worth, not "a journey" as Michelin says of their three star rating, but worth "a brief jail stint". Not at County. I'm not going to over do it. But, worth a night in Hollywood Division, probably two in West Valley.
Pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez first put peanut butter gelato on the Mozza menus several years back and it comes and vanishes on the menus, which is good. For me, at least. It's at Newport now and at PIzzeria Mozza in San Diego, though their version is not as salty. Chef Emily gave credit to Mozza cook Daniel Troyano for making this batch of gelato. This guy should retire right now. Go out like Koufax.
I wrote here about "The Year in Ice Cream" as 2013 ended, focusing on my yearning for Haagen Daz Chocolate Peanut Butter and, more recently, Steve's Salty Caramel and Jeni' s Salty Czramel. But, nothing I had in 2013 was as good this Salty PB.
I had four or five forkfuls in the kitchen when we walked in, then about a third of a serving portion as an appetizer. I gave it back to pastry chef Annabel and said bring it back for dessert. We ate a tri colore salad, broccolini and good roast chicken. Then, along with butter praline gelato and rocky road gelato pie, the Salty PB was back.
"Is it as good as you remember?, Emily asked. "You know, from an hour ago?"
It was. I don't know how long the salty peanut butter gelato is going to be on the menu at Pizzeria Mozza Newport. But, if someone asked me what's the greatest ice cream who ever lived, this Salty PB gets my nod.