Diners of all ages are seated at picnic tables topped with umbrellas advertising Pellegrino and Cinzano. Servers bring out trays of bubbly pizzas and tall glasses of dark beer. Couples linger over glasses of chianti and twirl pasta. On a landing, musicians at the keyboard and cocktail drum set play "Volare" and other familiar tunes.
The charming al fresco scene is not in a village in southern Italy. It's Edgehill Village, just off Music Row. Within the urban neighborhood enclave, Valentino's executive chef, Paolo Tramontano, has introduced the flavors of his hometown, Naples.
Inside, the eatery is cozy and casual, with two exposed-brick dining rooms: one with a bar, the other boasting a clear and spellbinding view of the pizza kitchen.
To recreate an authentic pizzeria as one would find in Naples, Chef Paolo imported all the right elements, beginning with the special domed brick oven. Here the pizzas are cooked on the masonry floor, alongside burning wood. Fueled by Tennessee oak, the oven's blaze approaches 900 degrees, quickly cooking the pizza to its bubbly, leopard-spotted best.
Neapolitan style also requires San Marzano tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh mozzarella and "00" Caputo flour. Milled as fine as talcum powder, Caputo is considered the premier pizza flour and the key to soft, pliable dough.
If you want to experience Italy without the 9 hours flight, and uncomfortable narrow seat in coach, come by Bella Napoli, and let your mind and palate take the journey of a lifetime!