I am a bad blogger. It’s almost time for this week’s pizza-on-Friday and I haven’t written about last week’s adventure.
Pizzeria Bella Napoli is a classic Roman neighborhood place. Just off Piazza Alessandria, it’s not a place most visitors would stumble into. The dining room is quite large, but divided into rooms so it is not overwhelming.
I had made a reservation and felt a bit funny at 8:00PM when we arrived and were the third table to be seated. Silly Americans! But when you get up at 4:00AM, 8:00PM feels like a late dining hour.
Shortly, a group of four 15 or 16-year-old boys was seated near us. All elbows and shoulders, they finally positioned themselves and settled into a streaming conversation where all four spoke simultaneously. (Very Italian.) A few other parties wandered in, and just before 9:00PM we heard a cacophony coming from a large room near front-of-house: about 2 dozen junior-high-aged kids had taken over a large semi-private area. The only adults were the hustling waiters. There are not a lot of places we have dined that could accommodate such a group.
Groups of young people dining out without parents is not uncommon in the neighborhood places. They may be noisy, but we find they are generally well-behaved and respectful. There were also couples, business people, and families with small children there that evening. We were the only Americans although there was a couple from eastern Europe seated next to us.
The food was fine. Nothing terrific but a good bargain and decent quality. The fritti cannot stand up to the wonderful stuff we had at Da Remo, nor to Taverna Rossini, but it was fine. My pizza could have used another 30 seconds in the oven, something I seem to say a lot. I like a well-browned (ok, partly black) crust, and Ric always seems to get the darkest one. The crust did stand up to the toppings and did not get soggy, although it was on the chewy side. A good workout for the jaw. If you are in the area, it would be a fine choice, but I would not go more than 10 minutes out-of-my-way to eat there, unless you have a group of 24 junior-high-aged kids. Where else are you going to find a place big enough?
Pizza Quality: 2 Neapolitan style with a thicker edge, but chewy. Too chewy. Fine quality toppings, wood-fired oven.
Service: 2 Efficient, friendly enough, but nothing special. No English spoken that we could discern.
Ambiance: 2 Casual dining rooms; The restaurant is so large I wonder if when it is full they can manage, and it must be tremendously noisy at times.
Total Points: 6
Returnability: Go-to Place – fine if you are in the area