by Madison Fortman
Pizza continues to be a classic favorite that comes in a plethora of styles. It is a dish that continues to evolve as people experiment with new toppings and cooking techniques. As a native Chicagoan, I am biased toward Chicago-style pizza. The thick and crunchy crust serves as the base for not only a mound of chunky tomato sauce, but also a healthy portion of cheese. Walking into Pizza Brutta, though, I was convinced that maybe I may be converted into a lover of more than just the Chicago deep dish.
Tucked into Monroe Street, Pizza Brutta is bustling with young families, Madison natives and a sea of Badger fans. The restaurant is small, but gives off a comfortable and family oriented, community vibe. The restaurant on Monroe is one of Pizza Brutta’s two locations, another location recently opened in Middleton. My mouth began to salivate as soon as I walked into the storefront, with the overpowering aroma of fresh pizza washing over me. The restaurant was packed, but diligent workers frantically moved about, seeming to have service down to a science. Making my way up to the front counter I contemplated the variety of Neapolitan pizzas that Pizza Brutta has to offer.
Neapolitan pizza is known for having a tender, doughy crust, topped simply with sweet tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh mozzarella. Classic Neapolitan pizzas include the Margherita, but plenty of other options with Neapolitan style also exist. The pizza is generally cooked in a wood-fired oven that allows the ingredients to melt and blend together. Compared to Chicago or New York style pizza you can expect the Neapolitan pizza to focus more on the basics of simplicity and freshness. The end result is a light, flavorful pizza that surpasses expectations.
I found myself choosing the Olivetto pizza. This dish is under the pizza category of “Pizza Rosso” simply meaning the pizzas have San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, sea salt and any additional toppings specific to the individual pizza. Layered perfectly on the Olivetto were basil, artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese.
Behind a transparent counter and working space, I watched Pizza Brutta chefs work to make each pizza fresh and to the customers specific liking. While you can order off the restaurant’s signature pizza menu, customers also have the autonomy to design their own personal pizza. From rolling out the dough, to topping the pizza, and finally seeing it come in and out of the oven, Pizza Brutta is unique in allowing customers to witness the entirety of the pizza making process.
My Olivetto pizza was delivered sizzling out of the wood-burning oven in a prompt manner. The pizza was a gracious size and priced at $11.50. While the pizzas are a size that you could share, if you are feeling ambitious, my suggestion is to order your own. You may even find it hard to possess enough self-control to not eat the whole pizza in one sitting, but if you do, it serves well as left overs for another meal.
As I bit into my first slice, for a second I could almost envision myself removed from the busy restaurant in Madison and in a quaint cafe in Italy. All the ingredients tasted so fresh and were put together with such thought and passion. It was hard to control myself from not downing one slice after another. The warm crust was lightly golden with a subtle crunch, but you’ll find that in the center, the crust was soft and a doughy delight.
The tomato sauce was also light and sweet. The tomatoes used to make the sauce were grown outside Naples, Italy, giving the dish an authentic Italian touch. In addition, their mozzarella is made fresh in-house. The restaurant’s focus on quality, fresh ingredients has to do with their pledge to agricultural sustainability. If interested, you can find more about their goal for providing the best local ingredients on their website.
To top off the meal, I could not resist ordering a Nutella pizza for desert. It hit every sweet tooth craving imaginable. Its hot and freshly baked pizza dough was covered in dollops of Nutella and garnished with powdered sugar. Simply by writing this article I have flash backs to the sugary treat, which was heavenly and worth every bite.
If pizza is not for you, or if you are looking for a side with your pizza, there are salad options that Pizza Brutta offers as well. There are kids meals too and also accommodations for people who are gluten-free. Pizza Brutta offers college students the ability to have more than just a typical fast-food pizza slice; they offer an authentic experience. The specific Neapolitan style of pizza is also something not regularly offered on campus. With the Madison location not being far from campus, the prices being reasonable and the pizza being extremely unique, Pizza Brutta is definitely a place that college students can enjoy.