Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria

April 22, 2009 at 5:21 pm 13 comments

So I’ve developed this new bad habit of bringing my camera with me everywhere. It’s in my backpack at school, my purse when I go shopping, even my pocket when I’m going out to lunch.

Maybe it isn’t a bad habit in the way biting your nails or burping loudly is a bad habit. But like those things, it’s occasionally rude, distracting, and slightly embarrassing. I whip out my camera before the waiter even leaves the table, saying to my family, “Wait – just let me get a few shots of it first.” Yeah, it’s a little weird even for me.

Then again… When the photos look like that, who can really call it a bad thing? (:

I think I’m going to include something new once in a while on 17 and Baking and see if it’s a welcome addition. There is so much great food that I don’t make and isn’t necessarily sweet. Since I always have my camera on hand, and I already photograph pretty much everything I eat – why not blog about it? Seattle restaurants, bakeries, farmer’s markets…

Another issue is that May is approaching. I’m an IB/AP student, meaning I have some really big tests to take throughout the entire month of May. I should really be studying right now, in fact. So I don’t have as much time to bake as I’d like to for a short while… These posts about eating out can let me keep up the blog and practice my photography without taking up as much time. (In summer, though, I plan to bake like crazy!)

So let’s dig in, starting with Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, a charming little pizzeria in beautiful Columbia City, Seattle…

It seems like the birthday celebrations just never end. After Salty’s, Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake, sushi,  charades, and a handful of wonderful gifts, my grandma took my mother and I out for lunch. We ended up going to Tutta Bella in Seattle, a pizzeria my mother had been raving about for weeks.

The pizzeria is has a rustic appeal: un-lacquered wood tables, simple yet elegant hanging lights, and vintage Italian posters on the walls. Everything about it is simple and honest, but tasteful. We sat right next to a tall window and the atmosphere was really perfect, with filtered light streaming all over us and making our silverware sparkle.

There is really nothing on the menu besides pizza and salad, which was only disappointing for a second. The whole room is filled with the warm smell of dough and sweet tomatoes, and suddenly you wouldn’t even think of ordering pasta.

My grandma ordered the Mediterranea ($12), topped with extra virgin olive oil, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, marinated eggplant, roasted peppers and mushrooms, basil, and Grana Padano. That had been the pizza I was considering too, so I switched my order to the simple Regina Margherita ($11).

My mother had been there before and especially liked their pizza crust, which is as thin as light cardboard. Since she doesn’t like heavy, doughy pizzas, she asked for the kitchen to make a calzone for her. This was not on the menu, but she asked for roasted vegetables, chicken, and mozzarella inside, and the staff assured her this could be done.

Salad was the first to arrive.

Maybe we were just hungry, but we thought the salad was excellent. I usually think there is too much dressing, and that it’s too strong in the first place. Their dressing was nothing but white balsamic vinegar and olive oil, just enough to coat each leaf. The salad was colorful and shiny without being cluttered or wet. Nothing but greens, roasted bell peppers, red onions, and white beans – but we polished it off!

The pizzas were just beautiful. Even though I happen to be a deep dish sort of person, the thin crusts were both chewy and crisp. They were sprinkled with cornmeal, adding a bit of a crunch. Someone remarked on how fresh all the ingredients were – it might have been me, I don’t remember. I was eating.

Mom’s calzone was really impressive. It had puffed up as tall as our glasses and was gorgeously golden. One of her favorite things about the pizzas was the tomato sauce, which wasn’t overly salted at all. In fact, it had such a natural sweetness that we assumed it was probably homemade.

But what really sealed the deal for me was the service. Our waitress was polite and warm without being overbearing. She refilled our glasses so discreetly I thought I’d barely had any water. She was helpful, but I didn’t feel like I was being sold anything. The restaurant was extremely busy that day, so it took her longer to get to us. None of us had minded because the atmosphere was so nice, but she apologized – twice – and gave us two tiramisu, on the house.

I took one home and ate it for breakfast. It was probably the weakest part of lunch, but I’m often disappointed by tiramisu. It didn’t even matter, though. It was all about the pizza.

Everything You Need to Know:

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria
4918 Rainier Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98118

Simple, classic thin-crust pizzas, topped with fresh ingredients and served with flavorful salads. A warm and homey environment, friendly, flexible service, and not too expensive.

Entry filed under: Eating Out. Tags: , , .

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amanda  |  April 22, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Oh, wow, this looks and sounds like a great restaurant. I wish I were… you know… not in Maine. :)

  • 2. Eliana  |  April 22, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Sounds like a great restaurant. Too bad I’m on the east coast. But keep on taking your camera with you (and don’t apologize for it) because I want to continue reading about places like this.

  • 3. Maria  |  April 22, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Just found your blog. Love it. Your photos are stunning!

  • 4. Mindy  |  April 23, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Just found your blog, and I’m glad I did! I find it a little embarrassing to whip my camera out at the table too, but I do it anyway–all for the love of food, right??? Next time I’m in Seattle, I’ll have to try this pizza!

  • 5. Marta  |  April 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I’m just a bit north, up the coast, over the mountains, across the border from Seattle, but it’s my next long-weekend trip for sure! I’ll make sure to hit this place when I go.
    I have to say, these photos are quite remarkable, and just to think you took them in the restaurant with probably not the best of lights, you’re talented!!!
    I’ve tried taking photos in restaurants before and it always looks like dog food, yours look like out of a magazine!

  • 6. Alicia  |  April 23, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    love the blog entry! good idea to carry your camera around with you haha, I had mine out today while making cream cheese icing.. got a little sticky! haha. Looks like you had a nice lunch!

  • 7. Baking Monster  |  April 23, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    This looks so good.

  • 8. Elissa  |  April 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Amanda – I wish you were closer too… I’d love to bake with some food bloggers someday. It’d be so fun!

    Eliana – Thanks! :)

    Maria – I appreciate this, thank you!

    Mindy – I think the waiter thought I was a tourist. She thought it was cute, she was smiling. (Phew!)

    Marta – Oh, I wish! We were next to a nice big window, it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and it was actually perfectly, naturally lit. Much better than the lighting conditions in my own house! You can see a couple restaurant pics I took on my post about my birthday cake. Those look much more amateur than these, which came out nice. Thanks!

    Alicia – Cream cheese icing, mmm… Sounds delicious!

    Baking Monster – Yup, we’re definitely going back. My mom went earlier this week, in fact, and ordered the same thing!

  • 9. Chris  |  April 23, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    You picked the best Tutta Bella out of the three, and it happens to be my wife’s and my second favorite restaurant (first place goes to In The Bowl on capitol hill, which holds a special place for us vegetarian types).

    Don’t forget to try the espresso (they make the best in Seattle) and/or an affogato for dessert (espresso over scoop of gelato) next time you go back! Their tiramisu is also the best I’ve ever had.

  • 10. AndreaQ  |  April 26, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    A couple of comments, really! I think it’s awesome that you are 17 and have already found passion for both photography and baking! I wasn’t interested in much more than school and boys at your age. Don’t think twice about taking your camera everywhere-there are so many times I wished I had my camera with me and didn’t. Also, it’s great that you are looking to expand your blog beyond baking. I was trying to keep my own blog posts recipes of my own but realized I would run out of posts faster than I could come up with recipes. There’s nothing wrong with reinventing things over time. Great job so far!

  • 11. curlyseas  |  May 6, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Just stumbled upon your blog and I love it! most of all i love how open and honest it is–and your Cold War brownies really cracked me up as a former history student!!! I’m from Singapore, but I might be in Seatlle come August! So it’s great that you’re posting restaurants :D Keep it up!

  • 12. Anna Goren  |  November 19, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Great to see my neighborhood joints on this blog! Can I suggest the breakfast restaurant next door, Geraldine’s Counter? I used to work there—it’s to die for. Love columbia city. Also for some creative and interesting ice cream flavors try “Full Tilt”, just up the street–try the sweet potato ice cream.

    bring your camera!


    • 13. Elissa  |  November 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

      Anna Goren – Sweet potato ice cream sounds amazing, thanks for the suggestions! I’ll have to check them both out next time I’m in the area.

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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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