Hot Italian in Sacramento
What’s up with the bikes and pizza connection in Sacramento? Last visit, I had dinner at Onespeed, dedicated to biking themes. Then this month, we checked out Hot Italian, which features wood-fired pizzas and an actual bike shop.
Our party of three took a table in between the gelato bar and the lounge area.
Our waitress asked us if we’d been to Hot Italian before. As first-timers, we got a quick tutorial on the coded menu that cross-references ingredients/toppings with form of dough. Pizza, calzone or paninni, plus salad formats served with flatbread. The menu turned out to be somewhat of a brain teaser and more of a mental chore than I was up for on a hot, fatiguing Saturday night. Luckily our energetic 13-year-old had shown interest in becoming a better chowhound. I asked him to study the menu options, figure out what to order, balancing our choices to sample widely and avoid overlap. He did a great job.
We started with Piatto Bresaola, $12. It comes with baked-to-order hot flatbread and we requested extra arugula so that it could serve as our salad course too. Eyeballing the presumably standard orders delivered to nearby tables, I’d say we had about 50% more greenery on our plate than would be usual.
The Bresaola plate with thin slices of air-cured lean beef, nutty-tasting arugula, lightly applied zippy lemony dressing and wisps of parmigiano reggiano combined with flatbread was my favorite of the night. The bresaola was new to my friend and she said she’d be looking to find it at Corti Brothers to serve at home.
Then the Citterio Panini, $9, featured cooked ham, mozzarella, and spinach folded into a flatbread. It was a fine enough ham sandwich, but seemed rather pedestrian compared to our other choices.
Pizza stands are free-standing little tables brought out as needed and placed next to the dining tables for auxiliary surface area.
Pizza Bellucci, $12, topped with Italian sausage, ricotta, mozzarella was our first pizza. Judicious with the toppings, hewing closer to an Italian style than what we’d had at Onespeed.
Here’s the scorched upskirt for our pizza. Later we chatted with the crew who said the wood-fired oven runs around 650-700 degrees. The very thin crust, at first a little crispy then turning chewy as it cooled, was quite delicious with good yeast development and the kiss of the wood smoke.
Pizza Magnini, $16 - Smoked salmon, mascarpone, mozzarella, fresh dill was our lighter style for the second pie. Perhaps light in weight but extremely rich with the creamy dairy. The pre-teen liked the fresh dill, and I was happy to see him nibble on it, savor the flavor, and burn it into his taste memory.
We had leftovers packed up to take home to the husband. Too full for dessert, we had to forego the gelato bar and the sweet calzone. That just means we need to go back soon for sweets.
Hot Italian Restaurant
1627 16th St, Sacramento, CA 95814
In February I was back here as part of a large group. I wanted to post that it worked quite well for serving a party of more than 20 people at a big table with a couple auxiliary smaller tables. And the staff did a good job of keeping track of individual tabs for drinks. I started with a glass of prosecco rosato served in a stemless flute.
Since I didn't order, I don't know the names of the pies we had. In any case, the pizza with a swirl of pesto was my favorite, as well as one with thinly sliced pears. We rounded out the ordering with a bunch of composed salads to share. I had hazelnut gelato at the end that was no great shakes, and turns out its Naia, which has never been a favorite of mine.