Not too long ago, we found ourselves in Columbia City for the first time. We were meeting a friend who was staying with her sister, and decided since it was a Friday night, we would head out and see if we could find a place to grab a drink and maybe a quick bit to eat. After picking her up, we headed back to the main drag in search of such a place. The first place we walked into was crowded and loud, so we decided to go somewhere else since we just wanted a place to chat and relax a little. That’s when we noticed Tutta Bella and decided to head in.
We took our seats in the bar, and after ordering a round of wine (the Columbia City location doesn’t have their full liquor license yet, as of this review), we started to look over the menu (well I looked over the menu while the girls talked). Tutta Bella is unique in that it was the first pizzeria in the Northwest to receive the VPN Certification which basically means according to the original pizza makers in Naples, this is authentic Neapolitan Pizza. I figured since they went to all the trouble to obtain the certification, I might as well partake in the end product. So, when the waiter came back around, I asked him what his favorite pizza was, and then went ahead and ordered it. We also got a second pizza that was his number two choice.
It didn’t take very long for the pizzas to arrive, maybe ten minutes total. The first was the Giovanni which is an olive oil base topped with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and finished with parmesan reggiano and a little more olive oil. All of these are ingredients that I like, so I dove in. I don’t know if my first bite was a little disappointment or ho hum, but it definitely wasn’t “Wow!”. The pizza was good, and all of the the flavors were there, but they didn’t necessarily explode in your mouth, everything being a little subdued. And the crust wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Maybe it’s a different style in Naples, but I was expecting a little more crunch than I got. I still put away a second piece before I turned to our other pizza, the Pancetta E Pomodoro.
This pizza featured again an olive oil base and was topped with pancetta, fire-roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and some mozzarella. Now this pizza had more of the exploding flavors I was looking for, and a little more textural depth with the crispy pancetta. There was some sweetness from the onions, saltiness and crispiness from the pancetta, and nicely finished with the olive oil. The crust was again a little on the flimsy side, but to me, this pizza was definitively better.
After a couple more slices we packed up and headed out, mostly because they were closing around us at 10:45 at night on a Friday. I took my pizza with me, figuring it would make a good lunch for the next day. It did, and was even better when I added some good balsamic vinegar to it. I was never able to really crisp up the crust, but the balsamic definitely added another flavor level to the Giovanni.
In the end, I can’t really decide my opinion on the pizza. The Giovanni had some ok flavors, but nothing super special. The Pancetta E Pomodoro was saved by the Pancetta (and let’s be honest, is there anything that pancetta doesn’t make better?). The biggest thing was that to me, it was simply missing the textural depth I was looking for. On my UrbanSpoon profile, I didn’t select either Like or Dislike because neither one of them seemed correct. I guess you could say that I was indifferent. For my money, Delancy is a far better option in Seattle (my favorite is still the Duck Prosciutto at Lolita in Cleveland, but duck prosciutto is a little unfair…).