Phone: (09) 826 0777
Rating out of 10: Food: 8, Service: 8, Value: 9, Ambience: 6
When I was 10 and my sister was 7, our parents moved us to the end of the world.
One morning we woke up in Blenheim (civilisation), the next we were in Punakaiki (possums on the roof).
There was only one television channel, no fish and chip shop and the nearest pizza was a four-hour drive away. The side effect of a childhood deprived of saturated fat and salt is that now, when faced with melted mozzarella, I have no "stop" mechanism.
Pizza is one of the world's simplest and greatest food pleasures. But it has taken me some time to understand that like, say, instant coffee and espresso, there is pizza - and then there is pizza.
Settebello serves the latter, with a thin base and minimal toppings, cooked fast in a 450-500C wood-fired oven. Molto autentico.
Naples by way of New Lynn, says owner Francesco Acri. "Have you considered moving into the city?" I ask when paying the ridiculously reasonable bill. The woman at the counter is shocked. "No!"
Fortunately for non-Westies, Settebello accepts bookings and has good parking. It does take-out, but on a Saturday night, we were an extended whanau of five at a corner table. Your enjoyment of the decor will depend greatly on your taste in wall murals and checked tablecloths, but the BYO corkage is only $6, and that's a really small price to pay to suck up some kitsch.
The garlic and oregano bread ($7.90) is an excellent prelude to the pizza - same base, with fewer toppings, chopped into bite-sized squares.
The main event is, as per Neapolitan tradition, crispy on the crust and soggy in the centre. This is pizza with history, with its own international governing association that dictates the use of "00" flour, San Marzano tomatoes and only the most basic toppings.
Technically, there should be no prawns. I'm glad Settebello is breaking that rule, because the plump crustacean and pesto atop the "vespucci" ($22) earned much praise at our table.
The $20.90 Milano (bacon, salami, olives, capsicum and red onion) was quickly divided and devoured - track its progress via wispy trails of stretchy cheese. We took more time with a $25 "Rossa Settebello" and its motherlode of fennel pork sausage, mushroom, gorgonzola, parmigiano and truffle oil. Non-traditional, but very good.
The pesto and ricotta gnocchi ($19.50) was too gluggy for me, but the table conspired to scrape the dish clean. If you're eating in, add a fresh rocket and tomato salad to your order for $6.50, and then have dessert because you're there, and why wouldn't you?
Pudding was a bit of a let-down. An affogato ($8) was refreshing but unremarkable, a chocolate "truffle" ($8.50) was really just icecream and we all thought the tiramisu ($8.50) lacked coffee. Order scugnizzielli napoletani at your peril. The small serve ($7.50) is enough for an entire table and the best translation I could find for this dish was "congratulations, you've just consumed your body weight in deep-fried dough and chocolate sauce".
Our table of five spent $163.80.