Tuesday, June 2, 2009

You Can Bet on Bettola!

Last week, MP invited me to join her parents and her for dinner. I was really excited to see them, and also excited to be relieved of restaurant selecting duties! They picked Bettola on the Upper West Side. On a stretch of Amsterdam that is almost solid restaurants, I almost walked into the wrong one...and MP's parents actually did. The tiny lettering on the awnings makes it a little tricky!

Inside is a warm, cozy atmosphere with exposed brick walls and dim lighting. The wood-burning oven is definitely the focal point featured dead center at the back of the small dining space - as is the Italian flag.

We looked over the menu, and oohed and ahhed over a lot of the dishes. I knew I definitely wanted pizza, especially from a wood-burning oven. We were all interested in the same dishes, so we ended up sharing a bunch of things.

We started with two Insalata Di Farro with seasonal greens, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil with a balsamic vinaigrette. It was pretty straightforward, and a nice start to the meal. MP ordered the zuppa del journo, which was a carrot, celery, and onion puree. It was a pretty crazy color of orange, but had a great flavor. And, it was even better with focaccia from the bread basket dipped in it.

We decided to order three pizzas to share, and figured with 4 slices in each, it would be the perfect amount for the four of us! First up was the Regina Margherita, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil. To me, margherita pizzas are the perfect kind of pie...simple, flavorful, and delicious. The tomato sauce was bold and tangy, and there was the perfect amount of cheese. As with all of the pizzas, the crust was crispy without being too dried out.
The second one was the Salute made with whole wheat dough with grilled and roasted vegetables. The variety of veggies was nice...I think I spotted zucchini, eggplant, onions, mushrooms, and red peppers. But, there was entirely too much rosemary...completely overwhelming the entire pizza. It was definitely still edible, but it would have been so much better if they went a little easy on the rosemary.

The third one was the Bianca, with mozzarella, parmigiano, mushrooms, and truffle oil. Between this pizza, and the panini I had recently at 'inoteca, I have officially become obsessed with truffle oil, especially when it is paired with a great melted cheese. This pizza was out of control good. It was at this point that I decided I wish I had the whole thing to myself! But, I was glad I was able to try two others, so I sucked it up and enjoyed my slice and a half! The mushrooms were tasty and the thick layer of the two cheeses were delish, but the star of this pie was obviously the truffle oil.

We went on the earlier side on a Wednesday night, and despite it being pretty empty when we arrived, the restaurant had definitely filled up by time we left. The service was good, although it was very hard to understand the server because her Italian accent was so heavy. How authentic!

There are dozens and dozens of great restaurants on the UWS. Menu Pages has 59 Italian restaurants listed in the neighborhood. But, if you're looking for a simple, relaxed setting for a great, Italian meal, I would definitely bet on Bettola!

Bettola
412 Amsterdam Avenue
b/t 79th & 80th Streets
website
Menu Pages listing

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