Bettola opened last December in Cranston, and it’s already famous for its pizzas. By all means – try the pizza. The oven is an enormous dome coated in decorative tile. The dough is fermented an extra day, and the crust emerges puffy and scorched in all the right places. The flavor of sourdough bread smacks you in the face. You can build your own pizza, using toppings like chorizo, crispy eggplant, and lemon aioli. Recently, Bettola’s pizza was named the best in the state; this is a bold claim for such a young restaurant, but merited.
Still, precocious pizza-making wasn’t the reason I first walked into Bettola. The draw was Rolfe Square, that picturesque little street in the Auburn neighborhood. Rolfe Square is only a few blocks long, but the sidewalks are lined with trees and specialty shops. In other
words, it’s the perfect place for a hip pizza joint, especially when you live nearby, and you’re looking for a great lunch deal.
The fact is, Bettola is a handsome place, and it fits cozily into its environs. The owners cut their teeth on Basta, the upscale Italian restaurant, and they know how to make an eatery inviting. Yet Bettola is jauntier, with playful names and fonts. The decor is simple: exposed white brick, wooden pizza peels attached to the wall, and a floor-to-ceiling mural of Sofia Loren. Printed across one surface is the maxim, “Wine is the only artwork you can drink.”
I ate lunch at the bar, where I could yuk it up with the bartender. The lunch special is a steal at $9, and it comes with a cup of rich bean soup. If you have a standard appetite, the half-sandwich should satisfy you long into evening. I tried the Truffle Shuffle, made of crispy chicken, mozzarella, and prosciutto. The name is a cheeky reference to the 1985 cult film The Goonies, but it also alludes to the drizzle of white truffle sauce. The tower of meat was unwieldy, and I had to attack its vertical build from multiple angles. The bartender laughed. Then I laughed. And then she said, “You just have to dive in.”
Bettola means “tavern” in Italian, and it’s exactly the addition Rolfe Square needed. You can drop in before catching a show at Theatre 82, or after a shopping trip at Durfee Hardware. You can visit late, when all the neighbors are closed, and try one of the many cocktails – the Mules,
44 Rolfe Square, Cranston • 522-5222