Bollo Woodfired Pizza

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
"Our bellinis are incredible" the enthusiastic bartender confidently stated.

Which is how I ended up drinking a frozen bellini at 7:30pm on a Monday.

Ever since I've seen the bright red awnings appear at West Alabama and Kirby (seriously, if you've driven by that intersection in the past couple of weeks, there's no possible way you've missed them), I've been dying to try Bollo Woodfired Pizza out. Actually, ever since I met owner Ray Salti during the Menu of Menus Extravaganza where he told me about the restaurant's opening this month, I've been dying to try it out. I've lamented on here about how much I miss the much beloved Sorrel Urban Bistro, so Salti's new venture brought high hopes.

Last night Jon and I attended Bollo's media preview. As we walked in we discussed the subtle new differences in the interior. The large space of Sorrel was open, light, stark, sleek, and trendy. The interior of Bollo, while still large, is made to appear smaller and more intimate through the use of dim lighting and darker accent colors. While still on the modern side of decor, Bollo has more of an inviting warmth to it now.

We made our way over to the bar area and were informed that several appetizers, pizzas, and a mango ice cream would be coming our way throughout the evening.

As previously mentioned, I was advised to try the frozen bellini.

While it seemed strange to have a bellini outside of my usual noon to 4pm brunch block, it was a very nice drink. It was not too sweet and subtly tart, garnished with a syrupy, luscious, dark maraschino cherry. Overall it was a refreshing drink that I'd definitely try again (...during brunch).

The first appetizer we tried was the charcuterie board, made up of sopressata, prosciutto, asiago, cheddar, olives, fresh oregano, and bread. This simple meat and cheese board was clever, yet unpretentious. The cheddar and Asiago contrasted each other well, and the salty olives accented them nicely. What I loved the most about this board though was the fresh oregano. It really kicked everything up a notch. And Jon gave the meats two thumbs up!

Next up were the crispy calamari, served with marinara and tzatziki, followed by some spicy Italian sausage with marinara. I did not try either of these, but Jon declared the sausage his favorite bite of the evening! He also loved the unique inclusion of tzatziki with the calamari. He said the fresh, light, cucumbery sauce went perfectly with it.

My favorite dish of the evening was far and away the pizza bianco. The white pizza (a good portion size for two, if you're also having appetizers) included mozzarella, basil, and a generous amount of olive oil to create a lovely, decadent, sensational dish. Although a tad soggy in the middle (albeit from the olive oil I'm sure), this pizza with a crispy crust and bubbling cheese was a truly knockout dish.

We were also brought some freshly baked garlic bread. It was a bit tough to get into with a knife, and a bit hot to just rip apart with your fingers. Once we were able to get into it, I wasn't completely blown away by it on its own. I do recommend dipping it in the accompanying tart, earthy marinara, which made it work better. it was not my favorite dish of the evening, but it was not bad.

The caprese, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, and garnished with a few healthy sized pieces of basil, was light and fresh. What I really liked about it is that the tomato slices and pieces of mozzarella were more bite-sized than normal, making this a much more approachable, shareable appetizer.

Okay friends, confession time: I hate kale.

Am I the worst vegetarian ever or what? Believe me, I've given kale its proper fighting chance. I've tried it in salads, sauteed in portobella caps, in juices, in smoothies, you name it. Just yesterday I was in Trader Joe's and spotted some kale chips. Against my better judgement I bought them, hoping against hope to love them. Spoiler alert: I didn't.

So for some crazy reason I asked our bartender if we could possibly try the kale and garbanzo beans.

Okay friends, confession time, take 2: I now LOVE kale!

At least in this form I do. Sauteed in silky olive oil with garbanzo beans, red pepper flakes, garlic, and shaved parmesan, this is a savory, thoroughly enjoyable side.

We never did get to sample the mango ice cream, but we we'd had so much to eat, we honestly didn't mind.

After we had satisfactorily stuffed our faces, Ray took us back to into the kitchen to check out the massive, impressive wood oven, which was imported from Italy. This oven is what will be pumping out the amazing pizzas listed on the menu, or customizable pizzas made to order.

Ray told us his goal in opening Bollo is to create a local, neighborhood restaurant where people feel welcome and don't have to spend a premium on quality food. As a resident of the Upper Kirby area, I've been witness to new luxury highrises being erected almost daily, the bulldozing of local joints to make way for yet another CVS, and a never-ending sea of construction. So I am hopeful for Bollo, and I think it's just what this neighborhood needs. The Grand Opening is tonight, and doors officially open tomorrow. I urge you to make your way over for some decadent pizza and good conversation with friendly, soon-to-be familiar faces in the personable Bollo Woodfired Pizza.

And stay a while.


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