Settebello

There are all kinds of pizzas in the world, and all kinds of pizza lovers. But if Chicago-style — deep-dish, or thick crust — is your thing, and you’re not open to any other type, I’m not going to pretend you’ll like Settebello.

Settebello, as it happens, hews to an extremely narrow definition of what pizza is. It’s always hand-tossed, always baked in a wood-burning oven, employing specific ingredients (and no, pepperoni isn’t among them, although all of the other stuff that is should keep most people satisfied). This is the real thing — authentic, Neapolitan-style pizza, sanctioned by the Italian government with the Vera Pizza Napoletana designation (which translates roughly to "real Neapolitan pizza"), as trumpeted by an illuminated sign in Settebello’s street-facing window.

It’s also very good. I’ve never been much of a fan of thin-crusted pizza, but this isn’t the crackery stuff that gives thin crusts a bad name. It’s stretchy, slightly charred on the bottom in spots from the floor of the oven, imbued with a slight hint of smokiness from the burning wood. While our server offered to cut it, we chose it uncut in the authentic fashion, tearing off sections, rolling them up and stuffing them in.

Design-your-own is part of the menu (and involves such toppings as pancetta, cured or cooked prosciutto, pine nuts, arugula and peppered salami in addition to the more commonly found mushrooms, sausage, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and so on). We decided, though, to go with two of the they-design-it choices.

The Quattro Stagioni ($10.99) was divided in quarters, topped, in turn, with slices of slightly charred wood-oven sausage, juicy roasted mushrooms, calamata olives and slices of salame, which is not to be confused with supermarket salami and actually is sort of delicate by comparison. This was a decadent pizza that showed to advantage some of the best bounty of the boot.

The Capricciosa ($11.99) was somewhat more austere, scattered with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, olives and cooked prosciutto. Like the Quattro Stagioni, it also had crushed tomatoes and mozzarella, both — in keeping with the goal of Neapolitan authenticity — in less abundance than is common on most American pizzas, but nicely balanced with the crust and toppings, as well as a dose of olive oil and some basil.

We started with a garden salad, the Insalata ($4.99), which was anything but garden variety, an impressive pile of mixed lettuces that included arugula and some I couldn’t even identify, dressed in a light vinaigrette and topped with shaved Parmegiano-Reggiano.

And a Caprese ($6.99), the standard tomato-mozzarella-basil salad that reflects the colors of the Italian flag, which, again, was far above the standard with impossibly ripe tomatoes, mellow-nutty slabs of mozzarella and fresh basil that carried the concentrated flavor of spring, with balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the side for gussying up.

Service throughout was exceptional. Our waitress was about as down-to-earth as they come and no dummy; after presenting a taste of our first bottle of wine, she wasn’t surprised by the slight grimace and the pronouncement that it was corked, noting that she’d had problems with that particular wine in the past. The substitute — Feudi di San Gregoria Rubrato ($35) — was lighter but just fine, and we loved that it was served in water glasses, an old-country touch.

Which, of course, perfectly matches the spirit of Settebello. Whether this is your cup of tea — or plate of dough — only you can decide. As for us, we’ll vote with the Neapolitans.

Las Vegas Review-Journal reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or e-mail her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.

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