Bettola Neapolita Pizza-100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die
Tasty Tuesday-100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die-Neapolitan pizza at Bettola in Birmingham, Alabama. This is my #52cnd try or #49 on my countdown.
It is easy to write about this visit in short. I went to this fantastic restaurant in Birmingham, ate award winning, wood-fired pizza with quality ingredients created by award-winning, Master Chef Lewis. But it isn’t simple. This visit had me practicing my skills in Italian, considering high-quality ingredients and techniques used for centuries in the Naples region of Italy.
The setting of Bettola is as cool as the pizza. Located in the Lakeview district of Birmingham, I found a restored complex of seven buildings called The Pepper Place. This exquisitely developed group of buildings is also hailed as Birmingham’s premier design center. Home to tenants such as: aero-pilates, architects, coffee shops, interior design, galleries, theater and a upscale farmer’s market; this is one hip place. The reno has even been featured on CNN. I love this area of Birmingham where the wind smells of change. New, fresh, fun and more importantly, floating with seeds of progression in this distinct part of the world.
I entered through a well-appointed courtyard setting and immediately thought I’d like to have a party here, add friends, food and beverages and we would be transported on that magic carpet ride to Naples. Stepping inside, there are two rooms with a view; both rooms are equally sexy with soft lighting, artwork and have a Euro-chic style that transports you to that coast of Naples. The design of the interior is upscale but casual, I felt completely comfortable and welcomed in casual attire. Looking around, I admired the uniqueness and detail that were put into this establishment.
The room that you enter has a sexy curvy bar with these fantastic wine holders and mirrors.
The light glows like a pearl on the subway tiles.
At the end of this room is a super-cool see-through walk in cooler with hanging meats reminiscent of a swanky European eatery, complete with a charcuterie on the spot.
This chef and owner, James Lewis has studied and continues to study in Italy under Master Chef’s and culinary artisans. Chef Lewis has certification of the V.P.N. Certification is brought forth by a body from Naples called Associazion Verace Pizza Napoletana or “true Neapolitan pizza.” Only a small handful of folks in North America have received this designation. I get into this further in my upcoming blog.
One of the skills that he has brought to Birmingham is the art of charcuterie. High-quality meats are imported from Italy and/or locally sourced.
The ceiling is a piece of art that symbolizes pride in the detail.
Each room provides narrow tables with banquettes that line the wall.The adjoining room has large paintings and a view of the centerpiece…
THE pizza oven. Yes, this beauty was crafted and imported from Naples,Italy. The wood-fired oven cooks at 900 degrees for about 1 1/2 minutes
Described as a menu that serves wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, house-made pasta, charcuterie, specialty cocktails and wine. The menu is what one might expect from an award-winning chef who has studied in Italy. Or is it?
I was there to play “my 100” but this menu had me lusting for sure. The one thing that I noticed was that many of the words were in the Italian language, which sounds so HOT! I decided on the Calamari Arostiti as an appetizer. The description read; Sugo di Pomodoro, oregano, crostini, Calamari, hot chiles, oregano and crostini in my language book. O.K.,I guessed sugo di pomodoro was the tomato-based sauce. I knew I was looking at a spicy calamari dish. The waiter making sure that excellent communication was taking place mentioned that it was not your typical fried calamari.
Although the waiter was available to answer questions, I wanted to appear super sophisticated; I googled Arostiti. If correct, this translated to roasted or grilled. Although it was super spicy, this appetizer blew me away, tender calamari perfectly cooked. The bread/crostini deserves mention. It was so tasty that it stands out as something that I want more of. A nice crunchy slightly charred tasting crust with it’s soft, melt in your mouth tasty interior. I loved this bread! P.S. I ate the most beautiful specimens before I snapped this pic.
From the menu, I was able to try two of the pizzas. The first being a classic Margherita. European unbleached flour, makes ALL the difference. According to Chef Lewis, this type of flour has a lower sugar content, this is crucial to the crust obtaining a crispness without the burn. Of course, imported San Marzano tomatoes and Mozzarella di Buffala (Buffalo Mozzarella) – Why? domesticated water buffalo from Italy? I will tell you. The higher level of fats and protein make the cheese very creamy. Fresh local ingredients are on the menu.
Is it or is it not the colors of Italy itself? I took these photos a few years ago in Rome.
View of Rome from The Vatican. above and the fields in the italian countryside-below.
This pizza is Italy. The second pizza that I was able to taste was the “Pizze-Salsiccia e Pepperoni.” The thing is, I don’t like pepperoni anymore; I used to but now, I never eat it. THIS pepperoni sausage was fantastic. I absolutely loved it and kept snitching little bites. The meats are either cured on site or imported from Italy. That crust is just WOW! Yes, the interior is softer, it is supposed to be. Perfetto! don’t believe Meg? This pizza was named by U.S.A. Today as one of the “10 Best” pizzas in the United States. U.S.A. Today “10 Best” Pizza and Bettola
I give this an easy 5***** MEGastars + I died and went to Naples, heaven. Extremely delicious pizza that highlights Alabama’s pride, fresh local ingredients, something unique to Alabama that you just can’t find at your local pizza corner. I generally keep service out of my write’s but hats off the professionalism of our server (sorry I did not get his name-excellent communication skills.)
Want to get schooled in the “Neapolitan way?” Want to know why this visit made me go from tipping my hat to a bow before Chef Lewis? Come down this rabbit hole with me. On my next blog, I will be writing about what goes into the making of a great Neapolitan pizza.
“..This visit got me thinking; what if a Bettola customer has only had only pizza experience wit Dominos or the like? What if this customer doesn’t know about much about quality ingredients that exceed the standards of taste? What if the customer does not have knowledge of the long hours, and even centuries of learning that goes into this type of pizza? What if a customer never knew there was such a thing as food television? And, what if the customer doesn’t read Italian or know another Latin based language? Would one be intimidated by their experience? Or, would they be inspired to create this pizza and learn everything about the history and ingredients of this pizza? Which questions might they ask themselves? A seemingly simple pizza with three main ingredients and one topping can become elaborate once the layers are peeled. Let’s peel.”
- Are a Neapolitan pizza virgin? Although not required, do learn about the standard of Neapolitan pizza. (Yes, the middle of the crust is a bit less crunchy than the crust itself.)
- GO to Bettola of Birmingham if at all possible to try the pizza.
- I would think that this restaurant gets busy. Here is the link to information to secure a table. Open Table-Bettola