Steppin’ Out – Pizza Bene!

“We were taking a ‘Segway’ tour of San Francisco,” said owner of Pizza Bene!, Ben Butler. “We stopped for lunch at a pizza place called tony’s [Tony’s Pizza Napoletana]. I fell in love with their pizza.

“I decided to do my homework and researched pizza made the way they make it at Tony’s and in Naples, Italy. I bought the best wood/gas fired oven from Naples and opened this restaurant. I only use imported Italian caputo flour, all the produce is fresh and the meats and cheeses are the best. I call it ‘taking pizza to a higher level.’”

My friend Russ Salazar met me there last Tuesday at about noon, and when we walked in we received a friendly greeting and were seated at a table by the front window (I love to watch the passing crowd).

The first thing I noticed were the cloth napkins and metal utensils on the tables and that the place was spotless. There were half a dozen tables occupied by families and business people and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

They have done a beautiful make over on this long-time restaurant site at 423 Main Street in Placerville (near the Bell Tower). It is warm and friendly with an open kitchen and a nice wine bar (lots of local wines and craft beers).

We looked over the menu and then settled on a slice of their combo pizza (you can get cheese, pepperoni, salami, sausage or a combo by the slice) and a calzone, both cut in two to share. We asked our server what he liked in a calzone, which turned out to be olives, salami and a few other things. To that we added sausage.

It wasn’t too long before our lunch arrived, hot from the oven.

When I took my first bite of the pizza, I said to Salazar, “Now that is a mouthful of flavor!” He looked up and answered, “What I like is that there is not too much sauce, you can taste each of the ingredients and the crust is fantastic.”

As I have said before, “In a sandwich, it is the bread; in a pizza (or calzone), it is the crust.”

Their crust immediately reminded of the crust on the pizza I had at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut, a few years ago. It has a wonderful texture with a slightly sourdough flavor. It is delicious. In fact, it was so delicious, that when Salazar left the rolled edge of his calzone (too many carbs for him), I took it off his plate and ate it. I told him I could use the carbs since I was doing yoga that afternoon (I needed an excuse I guess).

There was nothing left on our plates. Both the pizza and calzone were outstanding: well made, full of delicious ingredients, baked properly and served hot.
Pizza Bene! Has quite a list of pizzas, including the famous Margherita Napoletana (with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil, the three colors of the Italian flag). That is followed by pizzas listed as cheese, pepperoni, Asiago, marinara, garlic and more garlic, carnivoro, pesto and tomatoes and even portabello mushroom and bacon. You can order them in a 12 or 16 inch size. You can also get them on a gluten free crust.

Under Insalata are their Italian green salad and a side salad (I was going to try one, but we got to talking and I forgot). Both of them are made with romaine, tomatoes, red onion, black olives, peperoncini, chopped walnuts, blue cheese crumbles, house made croutons and served with your choice of dressing. You can also add chicken to the Italian green salad.

The calzones come with cheese and tomato sauce and you can add fillings from quite a list of vegetables and meats.

As I mentioned before, they have a number of local wines (by the glass or bottle) and beers on tap, along with sodas, iced tea and sparkling water.

Pizza Bene! is open daily from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information call (530) 303-3415.

Give them a try. You will be delighted with the taste and the quality of the food.

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