"It's really good," she said. "Even your dad liked it."
So we went to Matsuri. Only two other tables were occupied and they stuck us at an impossibly small table for two with uncomfortable wooden chairs. Against the wall were a few larger tables with cushioned benches. My mom said she would rather sit at one of those. We walked over to one.
"Is it okay if we sit here instead?" my mom asked the hostess.
"Just two of you?" the hostess replied. "No. These only for four people."
I looked around the room. There were several of these larger tables, and all of them were empty. As I mentioned, only two other tables were occupied in the whole restaurant.
"It's 1:45," my mom said. "Do you think you will need this table?"
"Only for four people," the hostess replied.
I asked the obvious question: "Would you rather have us go somewhere else than sit here?"
"That's fine," she replied, yanking the menus out of my hand.
So we left. Hey, it's their business, their rules. If they really would rather have had us sit at that tiny table than have our money, so be it.
I suggested we try Settebello, a Neapolitan-stye pizza restaurant that opened less than a month ago on Colorado Blvd in the Playhouse District. It is the third location of a mini-chain that has stores in those two other famous bastions of Neapolitan pizza: Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. (Actually, the chain is owned by Brad Otton, the former USC quarterback who did an LDS mission in Italy and decided to open restaurants in American using Neaplitan pizza styles.)
There was a parking space right in front and the hostess showed us to a table in the almost-empty dining room. I decided to do an experiment.
"Would it be okay if we sat at that table?" I asked, indicating a table a few feet away that was closer to window.
"Sure," she said, "wherever you want."
Some of the antipasti sounded really good, however all I was really wanting at this point was to get some pizza into my mouth as soon as possible. I asked my mom which pizza she was going to get and she mentioned one that I had my eye on, too. We decided to get two different pizzas so we could share.
"Would you like the pizza cut or uncut?" the waitress asked. I loved that. Neopolitan pizza is traditionally served uncut and eaten with a knife and fork. (Of course, just because I loved the fact that she asked didn't mean I was actually going to get my pizza uncut; I requested it cut.)
The server walked away and my mom and I chatted for less than five minutes before our pizzas were brought out to us. I have been served food this quickly before, but never pizza.
"How hot is your oven?" I asked the waitress.
"I think 1000 degrees."
My mom had the Vico: sausage, fennel, red onions, Mascarpone, mozzarella, and basil. She loved it, although, as I said, we were both quite hungry at this point. I tried it and, while I loved the sausage, overall I did not love the pizza. I really liked it, and the rest of the toppings were almost as good as the sausage, but the whole was less than the sum of the parts.
Each of the pizzas was thirteen dollars. That's certainly not cheap, but it's less expensive than the Luggage Room and about the same price as California Pizza Kitchen, and superior to both. (Although I didn't love the crust, it's ten times better than what they use at CPK.)
I will certainly return to Settebello again, but I don't think I will ever return for a quick lunch like this. It's not the kind of place that is made for such a meal. But a return trip with a few friends for dinner? Maybe four people so we can order several pizzas to share, with a bottle or two of Brunello di Montalcino open on the table? Now we're talking.
And next time, definitely a knife and fork for the pizza. It's not my preferred way to eat it, but when in Naples...