REAL Pizza comes to Wallingford


I have been waiting in eager anticiaption for the opening of Tutta Bella’s new location in Wallingford (4411 Stone Way North). Originally slated to open in October, they did not actually open doors until sometime in November. Like all good fairy tales, the magic appeared with the promise of liberation from greasy, bland, over-cheesed pies when I had my back turned.

At first chance, I gave it a go. Rumor on the street said they had been open for about 3 weeks and were ironing out some kinks. My sister and I stopped by and tried the Quattro Stagioni and the Quatro Formaggio with a lovely Tutta Bella Mista (salad) to start.

Our service was among some of the best I have had in the Puget Sound. The server (and I can’t recall her name!) was attentive but not overbearing. She informed us that the salad I ordered would feed two easily, and brought an extra plate for my sister. Crisp colorful greens were piled onto the plate and laced with roasted red peppers, onions, olives and carrots and lightly tossed in a flavorful vinaigrette (they used half as much dressing as I had expected, making it a perfect light course to begin the meal). Atop the salad was a dollop of herbed white beans. These white beans had incredible flavor and really added a great deal to the dish. My only complaint — not enough beans and roasted peppers.
We had hardly finished our salad when the Quattro Formaggio came to the table. My sister generously offered of her pie to me (all pizzas are 11″ in diameter and will feed 1-2 people). I bit into an amazing blend of mozzarella, house cheese, Grana Padano and gorgonzola touched with a hint of oregano and a splash of olive oil. The foundation of the pie is what made my heart sing, however. The crust was yeasty and chewy, heavenly salty and boldened by the wood-fire stove. Tutta Bella’s claim to fame is that they are a true Neopolitan Pizzeriea; the main ingredients (flour, salt, water, yeast, and tomatoes) must meet the strict regulations set by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, a governmental organization based in Naples which has a similar role as organizations upholding the quality of wines and olive oil in Europe. This was most apparent to me in the unique flavor profile of the crust.
I had nearly finished my slice when the Stagioni came to the table. A marinara-based pizza, this was topped with the house cheese and herbed mushrooms, artichokes, zuchini and roasted red peppers. The marinara sauce was largely forgotten due to the array of vegetables. I happily chowed down and enjoyed it, although part of me still lingered for the bite of gorgonzola on my sister’s side of the table.

We had the waitress place an order for a second Quattro Formaggio to take home to those who had missed out. Without any prompting, she placed it in as a rush order and it came to us shortly after we had filled ourselves to capacity. Declining on dessert, we gathered our leftovers and went home happily full but not painfully stuffed.

The flavors of Tutta Bella lingered in my mind for days. Not one to let a culinary gem go unshared, I invited several of my friends out last week for an encore meal. This time was radically different. Our server was a little spacy and inattentive — she came by to ask us how our salad was before we had even dished it out and repeated the faux pas with the pizza. In addition to the beloved Quattro Formaggio (which lacked the spectaculaity of the previous pie — a touch too much gorgonzola and a limper crust) we ordered a Mediterranea and a meat pie which I took no notice of (I do not partake of land-loving flesh). The Meditteranea was the star here – eggplant, olives, the beloved herbed mushroom and an essential sprinkle of fresh basil on a marinara base. Complaints were made regarding the sogginess of the crust of all pizzas. Being in food service, I know this to be due to the waitress not taking the pie to the table immediately. It was a rather slow Tuesday evening, so I do not see any reason for this (unless she wanted to bring out more than one pie at a time, which she did).

I split a Tiramisu with 2 of my amici. We were told it would serve two, but when it came we found it easily would have given 4 people a generous sample. The resident tiramisu fan gave it two thumbs up. I found the espresso-darkened spongecake to be quite enjoyable, but the mascarpone was a little too heavy and fatty for my taste. It did make it easy not to overindulge, though. A few bites of this rich dessert is plenty. I recommend splitting it four ways. The others ordered gelato – a vanilla and a Nutella. Both were pleased with their desserts, which made the evening end with a higher note than the soggy crust would have otherwise allowed.

Take home notes:
Ask that the pies be brought to the table as soon as they are ready. The crust is thin enough that it will not stand to sitting without damaging the overall experience.
If you order the tiramisu, be sure you have at least one friend along to enjoy it or you may hurt yourself.
The salad still stands as a winner — it would make a great light dinner if dining solo.

3 Comments so far

  1. josh (unregistered) on January 7th, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

    word on the street is that they opened on 12 december [mb]

    = ]

    glad to hear that they’ve worked out the opening week glitches. even when they were ironing out the wrinkles, the pizza was delicious and the service (for a table of 20+) was decent.

  2. Paula (unregistered) on January 16th, 2006 @ 6:46 am

    I’m a big tiramisu fan. Am wondering where your favorite Tiramisu is at. So far I think my fav is at the Cellar Bistro

  3. samantha (unregistered) on January 16th, 2006 @ 11:20 am

    I concur with the Cellar Bistro bit.

    ‘Course, I concur with anything nice about Cellar Bistro. It’s one of my favorite restaurants.

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