by Rosalind Brazel
Setting out on a quest to find the best pizza in South Seattle started at Tutta Bella where Joe Fugure started his foray into the pizza world in Naples, Italy. A three-week intensive training taught him not just the basics of making dough, loading it with toppings and throwing it in the oven. He learned the art of dough making that includes using the very best ingredients to make the crust crackle when its cut. He learned the quality of the cheese is more important than the quantity. Most importantly, he learned the cook on a pizza is everything.
To ensure his Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certification which distinguishes Tutta Bella as Neapolitan-style pizza specialists, each pie is carefully cooked in a dome-shaped, wood-burning oven. No gas. No electricity. There are logs of wood tucked into the corner of the oven that bake and perfectly scorch each pizza.
The certification also requires sauce made from tomatoes that are grown in Italy. Tutta Bella commissions their own private-label tomatoes that are imported from Naples. There is a technique VPN pizza makers are required to use to cook the pizza and very specific quality and list of ingredients.
Joe’s goal when he opened Tutta Bella’s flagship store in Columbia City 13 years ago was not just to have a good pizza joint. He wanted to open what would be considered one of the best restaurants in the nation. His restaurant is more than just somewhere to come eat, it’s a hub of the community.
In Tutta Bella’s spacious second story gatherings happen. Parties, meetings and reunions take place. Families are welcomed. Friends take in happy hour. And, of course, pizza connoisseurs rejoice at the piping hot pies served straight from the warmth of the burning logs to their table.
Yes, they’ve put a lot of thought and effort into the pies here. But Tutta Bella also serves coffee and pastries in the morning and gelato for dessert. The happy hour is highly ranked. The atmosphere screams ‘happening’ and the neighborhood cherishes the quality produced here.
Obtaining the VPN requires Tutta Bella to serve a Margherita pizza, which is very popular with diners. If you’ve ordered it, you know why. Its simplicity of toppings, fresh mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil allows eaters to focus on the pie itself.
The repertoire of pizza options is well-rounded, but not overly complicated. There are no bad choices and something for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Antipasti and salads get your started. The Napoli is the biggest selling salad both as an entrée and a starter salad.
With chicken, salami, pancetta, tomato, carrot, artichoke, Kalamatas, and gorgonzola on a bed of crispy romaine, it’s understandable. It’s a hearty salad that will keep you content until your pizza arrives.
The newest addition to the menu is pasta. Four choices, plus a kid’s pasta adds a new, more well-rounded dimension to the menu that says it’s not just pizza, they do more.
Those private label tomatoes grown especially for Tutta Bella in Naples, Italy are coming to a store nearest you. Well, PCC’s grocery chain will sell them to be exact. Also, , D’Asporto food truck (https://tuttabella.com/catering/) at fairs and festivals this summer and four other Tutta Bella locations in Seattle, Issaquah and Bellevue.
Their dough with its carefully sourced and high-end ingredients could be next, or the whole-milk mozzarella that’s measured to the ounce for just the right balance with the ingredients. The tomatoes are the latest evolution for Tutta Bella and the potential is there to expand. Ingredients to make this top-notch pizza may be in a grocery store near you very soon.
So, does Tutta Bella have the best pizza in South Seattle? Stay tuned. More stops to make.
Rosalind Brazel is a self-professed food snob. She has been food obsessed since childhood and enjoys dining out as much as she does creating meals of her own. She was recently featured as a Cook-to-follow in Allrecipes magazine and served as judge on the cooking show Dinner Spinner. She calls South Seattle home.