Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana
260 South 200 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
What are some of the first things that come to mind when you think of pizza? For me pizza parties, football games, quick dinners, the delivery guy, and even the awesome Dominoe’s pizza Noid back in the 1980′s. Pizza and America go back quite a ways. I was watching a show on the travel channel a few months ago about pizza in New York compared to pizza in Chicago. Both cities have a unique style and definition as to what a pizza should be. New York you have huge thin crust pizza that can be folded. Ray’s pizza apparently is one of the most popular New York style pizzas. In Chicago, they go deep dish pizzas like Giordano’s or Gino East. Chicago pizza you eat with a fork and knife much like a lasagna. Pizza is one of the dishes that you can make a hundred different ways and it still tastes good. Any combination of crust, sauce, cheese and meat in my book is a winner. But where did pizza come from? What is the original way of pizza making and eating? Ever wonder? This is why my first pizza post is dedicated to the real deal. The only place to get it in Utah is at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana.
The first pizzas were actually made about 200 years ago in Napoli, Italy, but in 1984 the VPN or Vera Pizza Napoletana organization was created to preserve the way pizzas were made in the old country. Settebello is one of only a dozen VPN pizzerias in the country. There are very strict rules that each pizzeria has to abide by in order to make an authentic pizza. We start with the oven.
When you first walk into Settebello that is the first thing you see. In fact, it is the crown jewel of the dining room it seems. VPN states that each pizza must be cooked in a bell shaped pizza fueled only by wood. While waiting for my seat, I noticed that there were stacks of wood quarters underneath the oven. The front of the oven door stays shut to maintain temperatures of 800-950 degrees farenheit. In fact each pizza only takes 90 seconds to bake. My friend and I had a table right next to the kitchen area so we could see the chefs prepare the pizzas and put them in. Every pizza that comes out of the oven has billows of smoke coming off it. You really get the sense that the chefs have to time how long each pizza stays in the oven just right. It’s kind of exciting when you think about it.
Another misconception about how a pizza is built here in America is that you start with this dough base that becomes the crust, then you layer on sauce and then layer on cheese, and then top that off with your toppings. At Settebello there is no “sauce” there is only crushed tomatoes, and the tomatoes along with the fresh mozzarella and other toppings all act as the “toppings”, hence, there is no sauce layer and there is no cheese layer. What results is actually much healthier than grease laiden American pizza. Don’t get me wrong, I love myself a nice thick slice from The Pie now and then, but this pizza is much differnent and has a beautiful taste altogether.
The VPN has strict rules with how the crust is made. The owner imports the flour from one of the oldest mills in Napoli. The wheat goes through 21 different milling processes. The VPN rules state that when forming the dough, absolutely no machines or rolling pins are allowed. Everything must be done by hand.
The cheese portion of the pizza also follows strict rules. I actually didn’t discover what real fresh mozzerella was until my 20′s. I’ve only ever seen blocks of mozzarella or shredded cheese in the stores. Fresh mozzarella is actually often sold in a liquid and is extremly moist. Its very very delicious. Settebello uses fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzerela. Nothing else is acceptable or permitted.
I mentioned before that none of the pizzas use “sauce”. Settebello believes that you actually lose a lot of the fresh taste of the tomato through the saucing procedure, in fact I didn’t see the word “sauce” mentioned once on the menu. Settelbello uses crushed tomato in the style of San Marzano which gives them more taste and less acidity otherwise.
The restaurant itself is very nicely shaped and has a great ambiance. I’ve always been a big believer that when eating dinner, the food itself is only part of the overall experience. Settebello is not overly decorated. Like I said the oven itself is decorated on the outside by small tiles, there are a few large black and white pictures on the way. Settebello does a nice job of selling the idea that you are not eating in America, but back in Napoli.
The pizzas that my friend and I ordered today were the Diavola and the Settebello. The Settebello has crushed tomatoes, Pancetta, wood oven roasted fennel sausage, roasted mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Did you see anything on that list that doesn’t look absolutely amazing? The way everything came together, there was just so much flavor in each bite. The way you can taste the tomato interact with the fresh mozzarella…. and that fennel sausage? Are you freakin kidding me? You gotta try this stuff, it’s such a nice change of pace from the cookie cutter Pizza Hut stuff.
If you havent’ visited Settebello, I really suggest you try it out. It is located just south of Red Rock brewery downtown Salt Lake City. Stop by for a pizza and then hit up a movie at the gateway, or better yet come March you can check out the new City Creek plaza that is scheduled to open. Will I give up American pizza altogether after this? Probably not. At $5 dollars and right by my house, sometimes it’s just too easy to get a quick Little Ceasers. But if you want to try something extrodinary, treat yourself to Settebello. The pizzas go for around $12 dollars, so it’s not bad at all for the quality of food you are getting. This was an easy choice for FoodRadar. Giddy-up!