Bringing Back the Two Martini Lunch at Traxx & Pizzeria Mozza


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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So – my badass boyfriend & I celebrated an anniversary of sorts this week & decided to celebrate it several times.  Here is my badass boyfriend (photographed by his brother, Josh Miller):


The bad news for us this week, however, was that it was (and remains) over 100 degrees every goddamn day.  And my home is not air conditioned.  So – rather than sweat to death & stew in our own filth waiting for evening to come & cool us down – we opted to eat fancified lunches in fancy places with delightfully cooled environs & get our day drinking on!

Our first celebration happened at what I often refer to as my favorite Los Angeles restaurant – Traxx – located inside Union Station downtown.  In the interest of minimizing our drinking & driving vulnerabilities, we took the train downtown.  That isn’t as easy as it might seem, however.  The fucking automated ticket seller machines are intimidating, confusing & really fucking impatient!  I speak English, read it fairly well & have lived in L.A. since 1984.  Buying a ticket for a ride on the public transit system ought to be easy.  It isn’t.  They are not clear about what the fare actually is or how to just buy all the fares you need for a day all in one go.  And if you take longer than 15 seconds to proceed at each of the several steps – the machine cuts you off & puts you back to one.  Step one – that is.  It warns you that your time is nearly up, which got me super flustered & panicky and then it just cuts you off.  Same thing with payment.  Don’t get that card in there fast enough or deep enough?  Oops!  Too bad.  Back to one.  THANK GOD it was noon on a Tuesday & there was no line of cranky & more savvy commuters behind me or I would have just given up & gone home.  I nearly did that, anyway, as I felt more & more stupid – with Miles watching me prove to be completely incompetent.  Just as I was on the verge of simply collapsing on the station floor & assuming the fetal position in utter humiliated defeat –  the fucking machine spat out a plastic “Tap” card.  Now – the last time I rode the train, the tickets were paper & you swiped them through a slot in the turnstile – like you do in NYC.  Unless they changed it there, too.  Now – you need to literally tap the plastic card on a large button on the turnstile.  See here – another hapless victim – spirit obviously completely broken by the strident & cruel Tap card dispensing machines (image stolen from Google).  Look at the slump of her shoulders – the near-tears expression on her face.


And now she has to face this shit:


It’s not OK.  Really not OK.

Somehow – I managed to tap my way through the gauntlet but when I handed the card back to Miles to tap (as I had paid for four fares – to get each of us round trip) – it wouldn’t work.  I was beginning to feel like we would not only never leave this Hellywood subway station – but that Miles & I would never again be on the same side of the turnstiles.  I felt a flash of regret for my foolish confidence & my reckless failure to pack food & water for our ordeal.   Not even a power bar.  Nothing.

Eventually, some kind Metro employee took pity on we two confused & broken travelers & let Miles through a gate.  But seriously – it shouldn’t be this hard to buy an Uzi or to adopt a child from Malawi – let alone simply commute to a different neighborhood via public transportation.  WTF?

At any rate – here are two shots of the train station.



I have others but – whatever.  Let’s move on.

About 20 minutes later, Miles & I stepped into the gorgeous Union Station.  Here are some half-assed pictures of it.


Very quickly thereafter – we were seated at Traxx & handed menus.  Look at the pretty embroidered leather chairs.


And while we did not order martinis – we did order this bottle of wine.


Happy Canyon, indeed.

Happier yet – me & Miles – eating these outrageously delicious saffron mussels!


Miles ordered a hanger steak & I got a fusilli with rock shrimp & some sort of pumpkin seed pesto.  YUM!


Lunch completed, full & pleasantly plied with wine, we braced ourselves for the horror of trying to get through the turnstiles again.  This time, I let Miles go first & it worked!  He got through without a hitch!  He handed the card back to me and, timidly, I tapped the thing & looked nervously up at Miles.  Nothing.  No green light.  Denied!  I tried again.  And again.  Nada.  Finally, an attendant approached & asked why I was such a retard.  Not really – but he did approach & inquire as to what my problem was & with a noticeable hostility.  I explained that Miles had tapped the card & that there should be one more fare left on it.  After all – I had paid $7 for the card which, I thought, meant 4 fares of $1.50 plus a $1 service fee (which is bullshit, if you ask me).

“You have to have your own card!” he said, looking at me as if I smelled of fecal matter.

“But I bought four fares.  So we could each go round trip…” I said, but even as I stammered the words, I could feel my ire rising.

“You need your own card!” he said again with utter contempt & then threw a suspicious look at Miles.  I was inclined to scream at Miles, “Run!  Save yourself!  There is no longer any hope for me!  But you can still make it back – and tell the others my story!”

But I didn’t.  Instead, I said, “That is bullshit.  I paid for four fares.  Who cares how many cards are involved?”

This got me led to the subway equivalent of the principal’s office – which was a speaker on the wall with an intercom button.  The surly attendant pushed the button & then said “Tell her!”

“Can I help you?” – asked a tinny voice from beyond.  I scanned the perimeter of the ceiling for a camera that might provide this voice with secret prying eyes.

“Yes.  I paid for four fares.  I want to use them…”

“You need your own card,” she said, cutting me off.

I scanned the ceiling & corners again.

“But I already paid for…”

“I can’t help you!” she said with finality – again cutting me off.

I looked at the smug pig fuck of the attendant guy standing there as he stared back at me with “I told you so” satisfaction.

I decided he was beneath contempt & treated him only to a sound of disgust before I stormed over to the evil wall ticket vending machine.  $2.50 later ($1.50 fare plus $1 fee.  Grrrrr!) – I re-approached the turnstiles only to see Miles on the other side getting the shake down from a bitchy female attendant.

“You can’t stand here, sir!  Move along!”

“He is waiting for me!” I said, hoping she could hear the “don’t fucking push me or I will be forced to kick your fat ass” in my tone.  I like to think she did, because she cut her eyes at me sidelong but then thought better of a verbal response.  Instead, she opted to shuffle away, back to her secret cave with its all-powerful intercom & secret camera vision.

After that ordeal and once again safely above ground in Hollywood – we decided another drink was in order & treated ourselves to a cocktail at the W Hotel.  I decided not to order the TWENTY-FOUR DOLLAR drink on the menu and, instead, ordered a Moulin Rouge (Prosecco, gin & something else with cayenne pepper floating on top) for the bargain basement price of $15.  Miles got a concoction for the same price which had about 2 inches of muddled raspberries on the bottom.  He spent a lot of time chewing his drink.  I’m not sure that is really the point of a cocktail but at least we were not at the mercy of the subway any longer.


The next day, we decided to beat the heat & continue the celebration at the much lauded Pizzeria Mozza.  We made a noon reservation.  When we pulled up there at noon, we saw a line already formed outside of folks waiting for the place to open.  Within twenty minutes of the doors opening, every single seat in the house had an ass in it.  Every seat at the bar, at the pizza bar & at every table – filled.  Impressive for 12:30pm on a Wednesday.


The only tables that remained available were the ones in a cutie little side room with a wine cellar in it.


I immediately checked in at Pizzeria Mozza on FourSquare (because I am a giant dork) & was informed that I had unlocked a special!   A free glass of Prosecco.  Yes, please!   I indicated this to our waitress & was promptly served a $14 glass of bubbly.

Here is the menu.


I considered myself fairly close to fluent in restaurant Italian but Pizzeria Mozza proved me woefully wrong.  I had to look up lots of words on that menu before we could order.  But order – we did!  We opted to try mussels because the ones at Traxx had been so great.  Miles ordered the chopped salad (that seemed to appear on every table) and we each got a pizza.  He ordered that bacon & salame one & I got the $$$ squash blossom pizza with burrata.   Here is the pretty food.


We both enjoyed the spicy mussels but agreed the ones at Traxx had been superior – primarily because the ones at Pizzeria Mozza that day were teensy-weensy – and because that saffron mussel broth at Traxx had been like crack.

The salad was yummy but, like most chopped salads, had meat in it so I had to pick around a bit.

The pizzas, however, were (predictably – given the reputation of the place) awesome!  Miles declared his pizza the best sausage pizza he had ever had (with golf ball-sized hunks of meat on it).  My squash blossom pizza had cool burrata atop it & it was incredible.  Plus – neither of us could eat more than half or our pizzas so we got to take some home.

So – two drinks later & pizza boxes in hand – we departed Pizzeria Mozza delighted by the experience.  And grateful to drive home & avoid the ugly bowels of the Los Angeles subway system.