Monday, May 16, 2011

Hot Italian | Sacramento, CA

Alla ricerca di un posto eccitante per trovare pizza grande degustazione e molto altro ancora? Poi, fermandosi a Caldo Italiano รจ solo il posto per voi. Anche se sono stato solo in giro dal febbraio 2009, i proprietari di Andrea Lepore e Fabrizio Cercatore hanno creato un unico "luogo specificamente progettato per essere un punto di incontro dove le persone possono riunirsi per una cena, godendo di una confortevole e moderno spazio urbano."

Whoops! My apologies for starting my latest entry in Italian, but after visiting our newest discovery, I couldn't help myself. To translate...

Searching for an exciting place to find great tasting pizza and whole lot more? Then, stopping into Hot Italian is just the thing for you. Even though they've only been around since February 2009, owners Andrea Lepore's and Fabrizio Cercatore have created a unique "place specifically designed to be a meeting point where people can gather for a meal while enjoying a comfortable, modern, urban space."

Now, I have to be completely honest in saying that we weren't entirely sure what to expect from Hot Italian. We've seen the gathering crowds outside their doors, and that showed promise. We even read all the press, which added to our curiosity and their popularity. But, we couldn't shake the notion of "judging a book by its cover" because its facade seemed too chic, too modern. Would this be a case of more flash than substance? Not in the least.

Entering from Q Street, we took the long walk through the restaurant and feasted on its sleek interiors that was more reminiscent of a gallery than a place to find good eats. Soon enough, however, we were directed to the dining area with its long blacktop tables, each saddled with medium height bar chars. There's also a large circular table toward the middle of the room that screamed community dining, be it with friends, family, or strangers. Add a helpful staff to the mix, and the stage was set. Bring on the food!

We weren't disappointed with with a variety of selections available in either of four ways: as a pizza, as a calzone, as a panini, or as a salad. If choosing a salad, don't settle on having it served cold. Rather, have it brought to you warm on top of their tossed pizza crust. We chose to do this when ordering the Sozzani (baby spinach, pears, dried cranberries, gorgonzola cheese, and roasted pine nuts), and we couldn't have been more pleased. The kids couldn't decide between two pizzas, the Bellucci (tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy sausage, and ricotta cheese) or the Stella (prosciutto parma, mozzarella, crescenza cheese, and a mushroom medley). So, they went with both. They went speechless after just one bite.

Quoting my wife after taking a bite of the Bellucci, "This is perhaps the best pizza I've ever had, so far, and I've had my share of great pizza." Strong words, I know, but before we start debating where great pizza can be had, she did say "so far." I mean, we've all had great pizza and have our favorites to tout whether it's from Casa Bianca, Village Bakery, Lou Malnati's, Grimaldi's, Taste Chicago, Gino's East, Bertucci's, Chicago Fire, Extreme Pizza, etc. etc. etc. The list can (and does) go on and on. All we are saying, bottom line, is that we would consider putting Hot Italian alongside these elite establishments.

If that isn't enough, the folks at Hot Italian also have a saying that is quite indicative of its approach and attitude toward food: "Pizza as Art." Beyond what you see on the plate, which, by the way, looks like something painted by Da Vinci himself, the phrase says a lot about them. These words are splashed throughout much of their literature from its take out boxes to their menus to their avant-garde t-shirts. My interpretation, the meaning behind "Pizza as Art" is a message that cleverly describes their flavorful dishes. It's a declaration of their use of simple, fresh ingredients that are as pleasing to one's taste as the music, videos, art, design, and aromas serve our other senses. That, in my mind, is what sets Hot Italian apart from other eateries that we've enjoyed.

By the way, after you've expired the last piece of pizza on your plate, be sure to take stroll around the restaurant to enjoy its other components such as the in-house gelato bar, where no less than 14 succulent flavors are featured. We recommend that you try one of their signature concoctions that dunks scoops of vanilla and espresso gelato into real espresso coffee. If that doesn't get a charge out of you, then perhaps browsing though their Motors & Gears Shop is the thing for you. Here, you can find Italian inspired sportswear and accessories for cyclists.

As I said, searching for a unique place to find great tasting pizza and a whole lot more? Hot Italian is the place to find it. It's a celebration for the senses that fa bene al cuore e per l'anima. Buon divertimento!

Hot Italian
1627 16th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Out of the Kitchen Sacramento restaurants

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