2901 2nd Avenue South at 29th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35233
I unearthed Bettola on Yelp and otherwise would not have found it since I’d yet been to the Pepper Place area. I guess you could call the neighborhood the industrial part of Birmingham; you pass a bunch of warehouse-ish buildings before renovated factories appear before you, glossy and happenin’ and containing food purveyors.
Anyway, I feel let down by Yelp and the 4.5 star rating Bettola currently possesses. It’s vaguely ironic that the only 2 star review was penned by someone from NYC because I kept thinking that Motorino in NYC does Bettola better than Bettola does.
Showing up on a busy Saturday night with Laura, I feared we’d be up for a 30 minute wait but luckily the host seated us right away. There’s a very Manhattan vibe about Bettola just because the restaurant is long and narrow, and tables are a bit too close together for Birmingham. While there were a few young people at the bar, the clientele seemed to be more well-heeled middle-agers and up.
Our waiter was willing to answer questions and seemed cheerful enough. Wanting to swap slices, the two of us placed our pizza orders with him after he answered that one pie per person wouldn’t be too little or too much. Laura and I decided against appetizers which was smart since free bread came out soon after. Though there were traditional Italian specialties on the menu, I was jonesing for pizza after having watching Mystic Pizza earlier in the week.
The waiter had alerted us that the pizzas would be out in a jiff, and he was spot on since the two of us weren’t even done with the free bread when the pizzas were presented to us.
My pizza was the “Quattro Stagioni” ($14). This guy was topped with cotto ham [cooked prosciutto], black olives [may contain pits], mushrooms, and artichokes. I don’t know what it was, but I just wasn’t in love. I wish there were cheese. I did like the charcoal-ly crunchy crust. Maybe the tomato sauce was a tad dull. I ate the whole thing and didn’t feel hungry after. Good sized pie for an individual.
Regarding the other pie, Laura had ordered the “Prosciutto e Rucola” ($15). Laura and I wished there was more cheese. The arugula provided an almost too bitter emphasis. Looks like a salad, no? I adore prosciutto though. Needed more of that! Owing to the thinness of the dough, these slices are tough to eat elegantly. I found myself doing the old fold-in-half trick which worked decently. Any escapee toppings were forked into my mouth.
There was a gal working who kept clearing our plates without asking if we were done [we weren't]. What was up with that? You can’t conclude that crust on the appetizer plates signal that we are done with said crusts. Annoying.
Exiting the restaurant, I spotted the aqua-tiled pizza oven in the open kitchen. Cute!
If I were Yelping this, 3 stars sounds about right. Not as phenomenal as I had hoped. Laura remarked that we should have gone to Cantina next door instead. Indeed.