Saturday, April 17, 2010

Settebello - the BEST Pizza in Las Vegas

I've tried a host of places around town, but for several years now, the absolute best pizza in the Las Vegas area is at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana in The District in Green Valley. By a long shot. The Las Vegas Weekly's Pizza Map agrees.

Since opening in 2005 in a location on Horizon Drive, proprietor Brad Otton (a former UNLV football coach) has moved Settebello to a more centralized location near Whole Foods. But one thing he hasn't done is compromise on quality.

As a member of an organization called Vera Pizza Napoletana, Settebello follows a set of standards designed to ensure the quality of their signature dish. These standards include working with high-quality ingredients, following an established recipe that includes hand-rolling, and cooking in a real wood-fired oven. The result is pizza that tastes far better than the doughy, sauce-smothered, greasy mess covered with rubbery cheese-substitute that is served in most pizza joints. Like the organization's name says, this is "True Neapolitan Pizza," as Otton himself trained as a pizzaiolo in Italy for 3 years before opening Settebello.

You can view a video of the Settebello pizza-making process here. It was shot at their original location, but it's tantalizing.

And the pizza at Settebello is sublime -- especially their signature pizza, the Margherita. The crust is thin, chewy, and full of rich, wheaty flavor. The layer of crushed tomato actually tastes like fresh tomatoes with a hint of olive oil. And the mozzarella cheese and fresh basil are perfectly proportioned to complement the pizza without overpowering it. It's pizza you can eat and still feel good about afterwards.

(the final slice of my Margherita pizza from today's lunch - mmmm!)

As good as it is, Settebello isn't just about the pizza. Their commitment to quality extends to their entire menu. Their focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients makes for really amazing salads. They don't just pull some roughage out of a bag and pour some dressing over it. At Settebello, they lovingly construct their salads by hand, and it shows, with perfect proportions that create a nice mix of flavors.

(my Insalata Grande)

My favorite salad is the Insalata Grande, which combines roasted mushrooms, marinated artichokes hearts, pine nuts, kalamata olives, flakes of parmigiano-reggiano, fresh tomatoes, mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette. The peppery crunch of the greens melds wonderfully with the tangy chewiness of the mushrooms & artichokes, with the tomatoes, nuts & cheese adding nice counterpoints. It's such a fulfilling experience that I've often ordered it as a meal in itself.

The Princess enjoys the Rucola salad, which is utter simplicity: a pile of fresh arugola dressed with lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. It's a testament to Settebello that such a basic recipe could lead to a dish worth paying for.

I'm no pizza purist. I'm willing to believe in the possibility of good pizza that doesn't follow the tenets of Vera Pizza Napoletana. What matters to me is the final product. Does it taste good? Is it satisfying? Settebello succeeds on both counts, in ways that have kept me coming back again and again.

Also, the service at Settebello is always excellent, and the prices are reasonable. Today, for example, my buddy John Z and I enjoyed a nice, 2-salad-and-a-pizza lunch for a bill that came to $40 including tip. Given the food, the clean & cozy atmosphere, the friendly service, and the long conversation between two old friends, it was a bargain.

140 Green Valley Parkway
(near I-215 & Green Valley Parkway)
Henderson, Nevada 89012
open 11am - 10pm every day

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