I love pizza, and even mediocre pizza is pretty damn good. But great pizza is so hard to find — the Triangle has not had a great pizza place. And when I say “great”, I mean the pizza is hauntingly memorable, where you can’t get the taste out of your head. I’ve had great pizza in New York, New Haven and Phoenix. This pizza is all about the crust, with a slight char, where the toppings almost melt into oblivion. Moreover, these pizzas (or pizze) are inevitably cooked in super-hot ovens, typically 900 degrees or more and fired with coal. Most pizza joints have gas-fueled pizza ovens, which can get up to 500 degrees or so, but still far cooler than what’s needed. Wood-fired ovens get a bit hotter, but not quite enough. Coal is where it’s at. And we now have a coal-fired pizza oven in the Triangle. In Cary, of all places. And very close to my home.
This place is Bella Mia, in the Arboretum at the corner of Weston Parkway and Harrison Avenue. The place is owned by Rick Guerra, a New Yorker if there ever was one. Guerra is friendly and passionate about what he does. His sons man the two ovens that are fueled initially with oak, and then hard coal to bring up the heat. The flour is imported “00” grade. The tomatoes, San Marzano. The mozzarella, from water buffaloes. This place doesn’t put second rate ingredients on its pies, and damn, the crust is so good.
We’re talking fairly thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizza here. And as I said above, it’s all about the crust — perfectly charred, with just the right amount of texture and salt (and not even the slightest bit of sweetness, thank you very much). I’d prefer it just slightly thinner, but I’m not complaining. This is the real deal, folks, and I suspect Bella Mia will soon have lines snaking out the door, as NO ONE in the Triangle has a pizza this good. Just order the Margherita and enjoy. I just finished an hour ago, and I’m already wanting to get back.
2015 Renaissance Park Place (in the Arboretum off Westin Pkwy)