Today I am welcoming a new sponsor to the blog: Bambino’s Pizzeria. That gets me thinking about pizza.
I am not at all unfamiliar with the virtues of pizza. In fact, my relationship with pizza transcends the mere gastronomic pleasure of its cheesy goodness. In some deeply sensory way, pizza has chronicled my days upon this earth. Pizza is an enduring mnemonic device reminding me of the events, places and people that make up the tapestry of my life.
I recall a late night in Chicago many years ago with my buddies Joe and Rick, drunk as hell, drinking Killian’s Irish Red, laughing and enjoying a pie at the original Pizzeria Uno. I have not seen those guys in years, but the pizza we shared helps me recall a special time, a special place and two very dear friends. If we’d gone out for Chinese food that night, the memory would be less indelible. At least it seems that way.
More late night pizza in Washington, DC following an epic Grateful Dead show in College Park, Maryland. Pizza so good it almost made me cry, shared near the Ponte Vecchio in Florence with my wife Kim, who was at that time my girlfriend but would very, very soon become my fiance.
I know it sounds melodramatic, but I’m serious. Pizza is important. Where else would you take the kids after a soccer game? If nothing else, pizza just might be the most sophisticated entrée you can eat with your hands. It’s shaped like pie: that can’t be bad.
“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.” -Dave Barry
For me, pizza is more than food. Likewise, beer is more than a beverage.
By and large, the readers of this blog are bonkers about beer. The next time you feel like going out for really good pizza, don’t deny yourself great beer. Go to a place that is obsessive about both.
Today it is with great satisfaction that I welcome one of our new sponsors: Bambino’s Pizzeria in Seattle. I first told you about Bambino’s back in January after stopping in to check out the Belltown restaurant for the first time. I heard rumblings about beer events at Bambino’s and I was curious to learn more. I was overjoyed to discover that the chef and owner, Belle Coelho, is as passionate about good beer as she is about pizza. Seriously, she is determined to elevate the pizza and beer experience.
At the time of my first visit, Bambino’s was preparing for National Pizza Week. To celebrate, Chef Belle created a special beer and pizza pairing menu. The draft beer selection included the likes of Pliny the Elder, Hitachino Nest Ancient Nipponia, Lost Abbey Avante Garde, The Bruery Autumn Maple, and other rare and delicious treats. I was immensely impressed. The bottle selection was equally magnificent.
For those of you with a soft spot for Pliny the Elder, Chef Belle was very proud of the pizza she created especially for that most notable of all IPAs. The Gaius Plenius, my favorite pizza of the night, featured tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy salami, castelvetrano olives, and pecorino pepato. The pizza stood on its own, deserving of its own pedestal next to Pliny. It was earthy and rich, vibrant and spicy. The slightly charred and smokey crust brought out flavors in the beer I had yet to discover. I am not kidding when I say that it was one of the best, most thoughtful pairings I have yet to experience.
Be sure to see my original post about Bambino’s, which I have included below. I share more details about the amazing commitment to the art of pizza and the beauty of beer. Welcome aboard Bambino’s! We are very, very happy to have you as a sponsor.
401 Cedar St
Seattle, WA 98121
This Pizzeria Takes the Beer and Pizza Experience to New Heights
(originally posted on January 9, 2012)
Here at the Washington Beer Blog we take great pride in knowing where to find good beer. What’s more, we are no strangers to the allure and charm of a good pizza pie. Therefore, when we walked into Bambino’s Pizzeria the other night we couldn’t help thinking, “Why didn’t we know about this place?”
Pizza and beer go together like spaghetti and meatballs. For many, the thought of pizza and beer conjures memories of the cheapest available beer paired with a food-like product delivered to a dorm room in 30 minutes or less. Hardly an elevated dining experience. It’s time to throw away that tired misconception and embrace good pizza thoughtfully paired with delicious beer. Forget about animal beer and pizza shack. I’m talking about the good stuff.
In recent years good pizza has grown in popularity around Seattle and today the city is replete with pizzerias serving a superior kind of pie. Wood-fire ovens, hand thrown crust, fresh ingredients and sophisticated flavors await local pizza aficionados at many local establishments. At most pizzerias the beer in an afterthought and you are lucky if you find something better than Moretti or Peroni to wash down your pie; however, for Bambino’s Pizzeria pairing world-class beer with gourmet pizza is a passion.
“Pizza is a personal food and the individuality in each of our dishes is brought to life when washed down with a tasty ale,” says Belle Coelho, the chef and owner at Bambino’s. “Beer and pizza connoisseurs are some of the most passionate people and our customers tend to seek us out for our rare beers and flavorful fare for which we always deliver.”
This week is National Pizza Week. Who knew? To celebrate the occasion, Bambino’s Pizzeria designed an amazing pizza and beer pairing menu. Chef Belle Coelho took great care in devising the pairings. In some instances, she’s designed pizzas to pair with particular beers. Call it reverse engineering.
Last Friday I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at what Chef Belle has up her sleeve for National Pizza Week. I would not be writing this if I were not completely blown away. This is an impressive beer and food pairing experience. In addition to the amazing pairings, Bambino’s is offering a 15 percent discount on all pizzas throughout National Pizza Week.
The pizza and beer pairings are listed below. My advice is to go hungry and go with friends. The more people you have in your group, the more things you can taste. Beers are available in samplers as well as pints. In the end, I tasted all of the pizzas and most of the pairings.
This might be the best beer list you’ve never seen. How did I not know about this place?
The bottle list at Bambino’s is spectacular, featuring an array of world beers along with many selections from some of America’s most revered breweries. The rotating draft list is equally impressive. While I was there the taps poured four selections from Lost Abbey along with Hitachino Nest Ancient Nipponia and St. Feuillien La Blanche. Not a Peroni or Moretti in sight. Sorry if you are craving a Bud Light or PBR.
Coelho told us that she wants to start focusing on local beers but does not get much attention from the local breweries, which obviously have yet to recognize Bambino’s as a great beer destination.
“Because we are so near the Space Needle, we see a lot of tourist traffic,” Coelho said, “Many people come in and want to sample local beers.” She hopes to start focusing more attention on local beer in the coming months. In the meantime, you’ll have to suffer through beers from breweries like Stone, Lost Abbey, Ommegang, Hitachino, Russian River and Allagash. Oh well.
She also recognizes that many of the local breweries are operating at capacity and have trouble taking on new accounts. Still, she hopes that more local breweries start to recognize that Bambino’s is committed to great beer. (So do we.)
Coelho describes her style of pizza as New York Neapolitan, a culinary art she learned from the masters. She worked at the now-closed, but still legendary, Tottono’s Pizzeria while attending Marymount College in New York. “It was the old style of New York pizza, not what people think of now as New York pizza by the slice.”
It was hard to pick a favorite from the five pizzas and one calzone I tasted. Here are some highlights.
The Mole Pizza, featuring mole salami from Seattle’s famed Salumi Artisan Cured Meats, was outstanding. The rich and complex flavor (and heat) of the salami permeated the entire pizza and paired nicely with Lost Abbey Judgement day–a beer big enough to stand up to all that flavor.
The Gaius Plenius Pizza served with Pliny the Elder was one of the best food-beer pairing experiences of my entire life. Coelho says she designed the pizza with Pliny in mind. It shows. I should state that I am not one of those people who bows at the alter of Pliny the Elder or Younger. Call me a heretic. Honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find me ordering one of those beers, but with this pizza it was divine beyond words.
The Tropicale will change your perception of the good-old Hawaiian pizza. It’s the quality of the ham and the other ingredients that make it tower above the typically mundane “Canadian bacon and pineapple” experience.
Bambino’s cooks its pizza in a brick fire oven from Wood Stone Corporation, the internationally revered oven manufacture located in Bellingham. The hybrid oven burns wood to lend authentic flavor, but also uses electricity and natural gas.
Here are the pizza and beer pairings offered for National Pizza Week.
Bambino’s Pizzeria’s National Pizza Week Pairings:
- Cheese Plate: Monchego – Monchego Cheese served with House made Crostini.
Paired with Hitachino Nest Ancient Nipponia.
- Benedetto Calzone. Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Spicy Calabrese, Sausage, Spicy Pepper.
Paired with Lost Abbey Avante Garde.
- Gaius Plenius Pizza – Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Spicy Salami, Castelvetrano Olive, Pecorino Pepato.
Paired with Russian River Pliny the Elder.
- Primavera Pizza – Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Olive, Onion, Tomato, Mushroom, Pepper.
Paire with The Bruery Autumn Maple.
- Tropicale Pizza – Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Ham, Pineapple.
Paired with Port Santa’s Little Helper.
- Tre Gusti Pizza – Truffle Oil, Fontal, Potatoes, Onion.
Paired with St Fuellien La Blanche.
- Mole Pizza – Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Salumi’s Mole Salami.
Paired with Lost Abbey Judgment Day.
You do not read about everything we get for free on the blog. In fact, you don’t read about most of it. You only read about the stuff we like, whether we pay for it or not. I want to disclose that we did not pay for our meal at Bambino’s. We did not walk through the door expecting them to comp our meal, but we appreciate their kindness. We write about stuff we like and feel very fortunate that some of it is delivered without cost.