Ok friends, lace up your boots, dust off your cap because we have a triple play coming atcha!
Pizza and beer are two things that go together like peaches and cream, like peanut butter and chocolate, like caviar and champagne. It was only sensible to plan #6 and #10 together.
You know what’s crazy? I have only consumed pizza once since I have been in Kansas city. ONCE! Pretty people, if you know me at all you will realize this is quite an anomaly for me. I love pizza. No, I don’t just love pizza. I Luh-Huv pizza. If I had to choose a last meal it would be pizza. It’s the prefect food. You get cheese, bread and tomatoes all in one bite. What more do you need?
Someone once said to me “Pizza is like sex. When it’s good, it’s good. And when it’s bad…it’s still kinda good”
And we just took a turn into awkward town.
Anyway, the fact that I haven’t consumed much pizza since I have been here is…well…it’s a problem quite frankly, and it needed to be rectified immediately.
Pizza Bella was the perfect remedy.
Located in the Crossroads district, the outside is unassuming, but you are welcomed immediately by the glowing embers inside their two wood burning ovens. Bright red chairs, and warm wood paneling make for a cozy, yet sleek interior which makes you yearn for comfort food with a sophisticated twist.
It was a little after 11am at this point, and I was dining solo, so even I would have felt slightly (only slightly mind you) odd ordering alcohol with lunch. In an uncharacteristic turn, I ordered one of their house made sodas. There were several options, but I settled on spiced orange and honey.
I never drink sodas. The only carbonated beverages I ever consume are beer, Champagne or tonic water with a healthy dose of vodka. But hey sometimes you gotta live a little, and this soda was quite good. It had the essence of a mulled wine…flavors of orange dancing with winter spices like cinnamon and nutmeg complete with a final touch of sweetness from the honey. There were even some bits of orange pulp floating throughout the glass, so you know its made in-house and made fresh. Quite pleasing indeed.
The menu at Pizza Bella rode the line of traditional Neapolitan style pizzas with some pleasant surprises. I ended up going with the prosciutto pie. A tomato sauce base topped with mozzarella, parmesan and four large strips of prosciutto. Normally the pizza also comes with arugula, but I find that arugula on pizzas tends to annoy me and get in my way of the cheesy goodness. So I nixed it.
It was delicious. The crust was thin and blistered with a delightful chew. The sauce had a light sweetness and the prosciutto added an umami flavor component to elevate the entire dish.
Now I clearly haven’t given many pizza establishments a try during my time here, but I think I would be hard pressed to find a better pizza pie here in Kansas City.
Perfectly content, I headed over to the Boulevard Brewery for their 1 o’clock tour. They offer free (score!) brewery tours five days a week and it’s remarkable how quickly they fill up. I was thinking about it, and I believe this is now the twelfth brewery tour I have taken. It’s always interesting to see how different breweries handle their tour groups. There are those like Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, or Half Acre in Chicago where the vibe is super casual, they give you full pints of beer, and it’s very “hey here is our brewery, pretty cool right?”. Or there are tours like Miller (also in Milwaukee), or Red Hook in Woodinville, which are much larger operations. The fermenting tanks are super shiny, the brewery is very clean and the whole experience is like a finely oiled machine. I would put Boulevard with the latter.
We made three stops our tour: The mash ton tanks, the fermenting tanks (which were quite literally suspended above our heads) and the bottling line. At each stop our guide would give us some back story and then turn on a big flat screen with a video explaining that step of the beer brewing process.
Of course, let’s be real, the main reason people do brewery tours is for the beer at the end. Boulevard has about ten beers on tap, and you were given four beer caps, or “tokens”, each worth one tasting pour (around four ounces I would say). I ended up tasting their Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, Harvest Dance Wheat Wine, Nommo Dubbel (a Belgian dubbel ale), Double Wide IPA and the Bully Porter (the tour guide liked talking to me so I got some extra tastes).
My personal favorite would be the Tank 7, it had a nice, soft hop profile which gave it great body without the bitterness. I also found the Double Wide IPA to be a very interesting beer, because while it was quite it was aggressively hopped, they created a nice balance which allowed the flavor to travel through your mouth and linger on your tongue for a moments after. With the exception of the Bully Porter (which I didn’t care for), all of the beers I tasted were from the Boulevard Smokestack Series portfolio, which are generally more complex, fuller bodied and smaller production beers.
Initially all I had planned for the day was to eat some pizza and drink some beer, but as I was leaving I decided just to check and see where I was in relation to Fervere (#3). Well the list-crossing-off Gods were on my side because, as luck would have it, I was a mere three minutes from the delightful bakery.
With charming daffodil colored trim and a white exterior, the space is so small if you blinked you would pass right by it. But don’t blink because, one step inside and the aroma of oven baked bread will fill your nostrils. Fervere is only open three days a week and they stay open until they sell out, or hit their closing hour. When I walked in at about 2:15 they only had a few loaves left, which leads me to believe they rarely make it to closing time.
I opted for a Rosemary Olive loaf, with a spongy, slightly dense crumb and a lightly charred and floured crust. The loaf cracks open to reveal a smattering of Kalamata olives which have wilted slightly in the oven, and a subtle aroma of Rosemary. Everything in baked on site with the utmost care. It’s the sort of bread you want to eat on its own, perhaps with a light drizzle of olive oil or the smallest amount of butter. You don’t want to take away from the bread, it stands on its own.
Part of me finds it quite unfortunate I didn’t discover this little gem earlier in my stay, but my thighs have a differing opinion.
Friends, these resolution list items are dropping like flies. Like flies, I tell you.