Making the cut

I’ve expressed my disdain for most restaurant food in the past, and mentioned that as time creeps on, the number of restaurants I will NEVER eat at increases, while the list of restaurants I will happily eat at grows more selective.

I have three main litmus tests for restaurants to make my to-go list:

  1. Menu items are reasonably healthy and made from scratch with real-food ingredients.
  2. Menu items are something that’s difficult for me to make at home.
  3. Restaurant has good service, fair prices, a reasonably convenient location, and offers a pleasing dining environment.
One restaurant that makes the cut is a small Seattle-area pizza chain, Tutta Bella. This authentic Neapolitan pizzeria uses real-food ingredients, doesn’t load down it’s lovely thin-crust pizzas with cheese and has an array of delicious salads on the menu. While I can make a tasty pizza at home (I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza crust dough), I lack the wood-fired oven and the technical know-how to make a real Neapolitan pizza. We’ve always had good service, two of the locations are very convenient (one close to Jeff’s work, one close to our neighborhood), and I enjoy the decor.
Every year, we look forward with bated breath to the Calabrese pizza. Olive oil, goat cheese, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar reduction, rosemary…and figs. The first time I had this pizza, my in-laws were with us, and that’s the pizza they ordered. I was all like, “Figs on a pizza? Uh, okaaaaaay.” I quickly changed my tune when I had a slice, because it was a slice of heaven!

This pizza is only available for a short time in late summer and early fall, when fresh black mission figs are in season. I look forward to it about as much as most people look forward to Christmas. Which is to say, a LOT!

Since we don’t dine out often, this was a nice little capper to the weekend (and to Jeff’s week of painting our two-story house…messy, sweaty, grueling work). This past week has actually felt like summer in Seattle, with high temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. It was extra special to be able to sit comfortably at one of the sidewalk tables as the sun set. And that’s what restaurant dining should be, in my opinion…something special.