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Dining out: Settebello

Published: Friday, June 22 2007 12:04 a.m. MDT

Italy's a poppin' out all over the Salt Lake Valley.

I mean real, delicious Italy, in the form of two new eateries, each with a narrow focus on one authentically succulent aspect of Italian food.

First, there's the sensational Settebello, the only Utah pizzeria that is a certified member of the Vera Pizza Napoletana, an international-standards association dedicated to preserving the "identity and integrity" of Naples-style pizza.

I could go on and on about what that means: the brick oven heated to 800 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit; the mellow Italian tomatoes crushed into a fresh, light topping; the imported Caputo flour that ensures the crust is nice and chewy. ... But I think I'll focus on the result of all that perfection: an establishment that is a temple to the art of pizzamaking.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, there really is a certain purity about the pizzas at Settebello, as if the owners, staff and "pizzaiolos" are the keepers of a mystic tradition involving fresh, highest-quality ingredients, commitment to tradition, and the delicious results.

Open for lunch and dinner, Settebello is an appealing midday stop for downtown workers because the high oven temperature means the pizzas cook quickly, in about a minute. You can peruse the menu, place your order, sip a bittersweet San Pellegrino Limonata, eat your food and head out the door in under 45 minutes.

Or you can sit a spell and savor the goodness. Our kids had the classic margherita, crust-topped with crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a little extra-virgin olive oil.

OK, I guess it's cheese pizza. But it is cheese pizza transformed back into what it should be, with each ingredient adding simple elegance.

My husband had the pizza lasagna, which must have been designed with guys like him in mind. This is a rich and satisfying dish topped with crushed tomatoes, oven-roasted fennel sausage, earthy roasted mushrooms, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, basil and olive oil.

I had the completely different Bianca pizza, simple and enticing, with paper-thin slices of salty and smoky prosciutto nestled among mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano, with bitter-fresh arugula piled on top.

Though the staff will slice your pizza for you, we enjoyed the traditional method of tearing off pieces ourselves. Just remember to fold the fragrant, chewy crust before you take a bite, so you don't miss a morsel.

Settebello doesn't have dessert, but we ended our lunch in Italian fashion with a stop at Dolcetti, a tiny shop that serves beautiful Italian-style gelatos and sorbettos.

The day we visited, there were six flavors available, and we tried four. The blackberry was dark, complex and seedy; the Nutella a light vanilla swirled with dollops and ribbons of rich chocolate-hazelnut spread.

But my two favorites were the cantaloupe, a scoop of frosty heaven that tasted exactly like its namesake melon, and the dark chocolate, barely sweet and packed with fruity, complex chocolate flavor. The best part is, gelato has way less fat than ice cream, with all the flavor, creaminess and quality of a super-premium brand. You can't go wrong!

Settebello: Appetizers and salads $4.99-$10.99, pizzas $6.99-$12.99, extra toppings 50 cents-$3.

Dolcetti: Gelato and sorbetto $3-$6.

Settebello

Rating: *** 1/2

Where: 260 S. 200 West

Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 322-3556

Web: www.settebello.net

Wheelchair access: Easy

Dolcetti

Rating: ***

Where: 1751 S. 1100 East

Hours: Daily 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 485-3254

Wheelchair access: Cramped but accessible


Freelance writer Stacey Kratz reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com