Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana

Address: 260 South 200 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84101. 801.322.3556.

Review: There are very, very few things in this life I claim any expertise in. (Parenting. Goodness, no. Law (I'm a criminal defense attorney). Meh, sort of. Vacuuming. Maybe.) But if there is one thing I am an expert in, it's pizza. I lived in Italy for years. I speak Italian to my son. I have taught classes on pizza artistry. I have sat around and chewed the fat with pizzaioli. I have eaten pizza at the best restaurants in Naples. Pizza is how we know God loves us. With that in mind, let's examine Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana.

Settebello is a certified VPN (vera pizza napoletana) establishment, and is the only such establishment in Utah. The VPN certification, which is expensive and time consuming to achieve, was developed to help publicize restaurants that conform to Neapolitan pizza making standards. (This is significant since Naples is the birthplace of the modern pizza, and is almost universally recognized as having the world's best pizza. Sorry, New York. Double sorry, Chicago. Had your pizza. You ain't got nothin' on Naples. Nothin'.) In essence, Settebello is trying to taste like a real Italian pizzeria tastes. Did it accomplish it's goal? Let's find out.

Salad: When my wife was singing in Italy last summer, my son fell in love with insalata caprese; that incredibly simply salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. If given a choice, it's all he would eat. So, naturally, we ordered the caprese. It was not good. It was under seasoned. The tomatoes were not ripe. The mozzarella was all right for a domestic mozzarella, but somewhat grainy. At $7.50, it was absolutely not worth it. (Disagreeing with my assessment was my son. He ate every last mouthful with abandon.)

Pizzas: There are three components to a good pizza.

First, the dough. This is the star of a pizza (not the toppings). A good pizza dough should be thin in the middle with a little rise on the sides in order to keep the ingredients on the pizza. It should be stretchy, light, and somewhat delicate. Settebello's dough was pretty well done. The middle was thin, and while the sides were not quite as light as an Italian pizza (i.e., they were a little dense and doughy), it worked well. Additionally, there was just the right carbonization on the bottom of the pizza. That's right, a real pizza should be burned slightly on the bottom. This is a natural, and tasty, consequence of cooking a pizza in a 800+ degree wood-fired oven. So far, so good.

Second, the sauce. It should be nothing more than crushed tomatoes and a little salt. The tomatoes should not be cooked prior to being placed on the dough. Settebello hit the money here. The tomatoes were high quality. Great stuff.

Third, the toppings. We ordered two pizzas. A margherita (tomatoes, cheese, basil), and a prosciutto cotto (tomatoes, cheese, basil, cooked ham).

The mozzarella was the same used in the insalata caprese. It didn't work terribly well there, but when melted it lost its grainy component. It certainly isn't water buffalo mozzarella, which is the gold standard, but accommodations are necessary sometimes. The basil was fresh and clean. One thing I loved about the basil is it was sliced, as opposed to being left whole. Italians usually utilize whole basil leaves, and I've never understood why. Slicing imparts much more basil flavor. In any case, Settebello got it right. Lastly, the ham was a good quality prosciutto cotto. My only beef was the portion size was too small for the pizza.

In all, I have had better pizzas in Italy, but I have also had worse pizzas there. Settebello does an admirable job replicating a unique culinary taste. It is the most authentic Neapolitan pizza I've had in America.

Price: The margherita was $10. The prosciutto cotto was $12.50 (the extra $2.50 was unjustifiable given the amount of cotto on the pizza). When you figure a large pizza from Pizza Hut is $10, and this pizza is twenty times the quality, you're getting a pretty good deal.

The oven: And then there's the oven. It's a thing of beauty.

I could go on about it's dimensions and capabilities, but suffice it to say, it is equivalent to those used in Italy. For those who have never seen anyone make a pizza in such an oven, here's a video of a Settebello pizzaiolo doing his thing.

Rating: Pizza 8/10, insalata caprese 3/10, overall 6.5 (the caprese was really that pitiful)

Settebello Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


  1. thanks. that was really a great review. i too have been to Italy but not lived there and i'm surprised to find such a place in SLC.

  2. Loved this place. The oven, the pizza, everything was unique and fresh.