On Friday night Andrew and I set out on our first best quest adventure, working on the pizza challenge. We headed into downtown Seattle, where we debated where to start. While we know we want to do Serious Pie, we were feeling adventurous and thus decided to head somewhere new. I had recently read a Seattle Met article about Tutta Bella having competed in the Pizza Olympics in Naples this past summer, so knew they were legit. They’re also Zagat rated pretty high, so we figured we would give ’em a go.
At around 5 we headed over to the Westlake location, where we had no problem getting a table (at least not at 5:00). The venue is pretty small and has a modern, industrial look about it. It has both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a small loft area inside, and features an open kitchen with the brick oven as the focal point.
We were pleased to discover that happy hour lasted until 6, so we got some great deals. Because one of our judging categories is sides, we started with the Polpette, which was 3 large meatballs in red sauce. We then ordered two pizzas in the pizzette size, which was about personal pizza size. We wanted to try one pizza with red sauce and one with white, so we tried the Ciro [pomodoro, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, mushroom, basil] minus the mushrooms (Andrew no likey) and the Quattro Formaggi [extra virgin olive oil, fresh mozzarella, provola, gorgonzola, slivered garlic, oregano].
Here are our thoughts in each category:
Crust: I actually really liked the crust. I generally don’t love the thinner types of crust, especially when they are done in the wood oven (I think they burn them.), but this was an exception. Hardly blackened at all, the crust was springy and good. Andrew didn’t agree, however. He thought it was too weak to hold up the toppings and that it got soggy on the bottom–I did not notice this, but perhaps that is because I eat my pizza with a fork and knife (like a civilized person). He did admit that his final bite of crust was very good.
Cheese/toppings: The toppings were neither great nor bad. The cheese on the Quattro Formaggi (QF) was quite pungent, but good if you like stinkier cheeses. The Ciro’s toppings didn’t stick out to me in any way except that I thought there wasn’t enough cheese.
Sauce: It is hard to go wrong with white pizzas with an olive oil sauce, so there isn’t much to say about the sauce on the QF. The red sauce used on the meatballs and the Ciro had a tangy flavor, but was just okay. Not fantastic. I wanted it to have a more seasoned flavor.
Sides (quality of breadsticks, salads, etc.): Because they didn’t offer breadsticks (tragedy!), we tried the meatballs. Andrew and I both agreed they were only okay. They were pretty bland, and the red sauce didn’t do much to aid the situation because, as I said above, it too needed more seasoning.
Variety offered: There was a pretty large selection of pizzas as “gourmet” pizza places go, but many of the options used the same few items: salami, sausage, and mushrooms showed up often. They did have an option to make any of the pizzas vegetarian or vegan as well as to add any meat or cheese for a little extra. Andrew and I love customizing things, so we appreciated that. Look here for the full dinner menu.
Originality of pizzas: I would rate them medium in this category. They certainly weren’t your average pepperoni, hawaiian, etc. combinations, and they were very customized to the restaurant’s specialty ingredients.
Ambiance/atmosphere: It was pretty a nice restaurant and a pleasant place to be. Certainly better than your average pizzeria.
Notes: When making our criteria, Andrew and I decided not to put service as part of this challenge because sometimes the best pizza is that hole in the wall place where service is nonexistent, and that’s okay. But I do want to make a note that the service here was very good, and we got our pizzas incredibly FAST, which was nice. This may have just been because it wasn’t very busy at the time we were there, but either way, it was appreciated.
Also, while we were there they were giving 20% of all sales to the Karen Mullen Cancer Foundation, and we appreciated that they are a company that cares. Speaking of sales, we were pleased with how cheap our meal ended up being! The meatballs were only $6, each pizza was $8, and then Andrew’s wine was $8, so we were out of there for around $30 + tip!
The Bottom Line: ★★★☆☆
Eh. Above, I gave it 3 stars, but I really only give it 2.5–I couldn’t figure out how to make the half star, so I am kindly rounding up. While everything was fine, nothing was spectacular, and Andrew and I agreed that we probably wouldn’t be back, especially with Serious Pie so close in location but superior in taste (though we haven’t yet formally reviewed Serious Pie, we have been several times).
Where else should we try?
Also read about our current brunch challenge!