The All American Pie

by —16 August 2017

The Tastings Team digs in to dish up this Italian delight

Pizza is the all-American pie. This savory flatbread topped with countless ingredients is the go-to option for feeding a crowd or for nights when cooking is abandoned. This outing led the Tastings Team to dig deep and discover just how no two pies are created alike, with so many tasty crust variations and topping options. As we found out, the all-American flavorful pie served up in Billings is sure to satisfy a vast array of palates and even the most discriminating appetites.

MEET THE TASTINGS TEAM

Lori Forseth, a family medicine physician, married with three children and two sons-in-law claims to “Love food!”

Sandy Kunkelenjoys cooking and eating. She is the mother of two grown daughters and manages family-owned properties.

Originally a Canadian, Lori Smith is now a 27-year resident of Montana, married with three grown children, and has always loved to cook and try new flavors.

THE TASTINGS TARGETS

The first stop on the Tastings Team’s pizza tour landed them on Grand Avenue at Tarantino’s Pizzeria. The pizza prep area was half the size of the front area of the restaurant with seating for about a dozen people including chairs at the counter offering views of the pizza-making action. Here the team tasted the Americano, Tuscan, and Bionic Veggie pizzas. Owner Jay Frichtl welcomed and hosted the group. Taster Lori Smith best described the crust: “Traditional crust that tastes like fresh rolls from the oven. Not too thick, not too thin.” Frichtl, who started the company during his professed midlife crisis, shared his philosophy behind the pizzas Tarantino’s served, “I tried to be unique without being over the top.” In his Billings, Bozeman, and Missoula locations mozzarella, white cheddar, and bacon appear as the secret ingredients. Tarantino’s menu also included Tascas, an Italian sandwich, wings, salads, and an Apple Pizza Pie with strudel, cinnamon, glazed apples and white frosting.

Downtown at Guido’s 1st Avenue Pizza, manager Alyssa Landsverk had the table set and pizzas already baked from the wood-fired brick oven when the TASTINGS team arrived. She selected owner Bill MacIntyre’s favorite pizza, the Picasso, slathered with Alfredo sauce and topped with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onion and bacon with the addition of chicken. The team sampled the Neopolitan, and the night’s featured special, the Greek, with sliced roast beef along with house-made tapenade, artichokes, pepperoncini, red onions, and tomatoes. Toppings were carefully chopped and generously apportioned atop a cracker-like crust.

On Montana Avenue, the song “That’s Amore” by Dean Martin welcomed the Tasters into the refurbished Yellowstone Garage brick building. Upon entering, the large open kitchen quickly came into focus. Seating areas were broken up on multiple levels. The team took a spot on an upper level with windows looking out onto South 23rd Street and offering an open view of the restaurant. Paintings by Leanne Laines with wine splashing into stemmed glasses graced the walls. Here the Tasters each selected their own pizzas. The combination of toppings was most innovative here, and our server Ken Norberg directed the team to try the Pizza Volpetti and the TASTERS all used “breakfast” in their descriptions with potatoes, pancetta, and eggs as the key ingredients.

CIAO MAMBO

Abby’s Favorite: fresh mozzarella, pepperoni and roasted garlic marinara with the addition of pepperoni, spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes


“Impressed with the tomato sauce – garlicky. It was fun to design our own pizza.”
~ Lori Forseth
“Sauce is lovely and sundried tomatoes in combination with the pepperoni and spinach make for a delicious pizza.” ~ Sandy Kunkel
“The spinach adds a distinct flavor and blends well with the strongly spiced pepperoni and garlic. The flavors are strong but balanced. If one enjoys pungent garlic and bold flavors, this is the pizza.” ~ Lori Smith

Pizza Rustica: grilled vegetables, goat cheese and house made tomato sauce

“Great combo of grilled veggies and goat cheese – made me think of bruschetta. Excellent.” ~ Lori Forseth
“Roasted vegetables delightful with lovely goat cheese.” ~ Sandy Kunkel
“The crust is crispy on the bottom with fresh vegetables on top.” ~ Lori Smith

Pizza Volpetti: roasted red potatoes, mozzarella, crisp pancetta and a creamy parmesan sauce

“Unusual but delicious. This pizza is so very different but the combo of potatoes, pancetta, and addition of eggs makes this a breakfast pizza.” ~ Lori Forseth
“Potatoes on pizza – FUN! This pizza would be good with a Bloody Mary.” ~ Sandy Kunkel
“I love the spuds in this pizza. Breakfast in a pie.” ~ Lori Smith

FAVORITE: Lori Forseth and Sandy Kunkel: Volpetti, Lori Smith: Abby’s Favorite

 

GUIDO’S 1ST AVENUE PIZZA

Neopolitan: Sundried Tomatoes, Red Onions, Green Pepper, Black Olives, Mushrooms, Artichokes, Fresh Tomatoes

“The sun-dried tomatoes make this pizza.” ~ Lori Forseth
“The sun-dried tomatoes add great flavor. The artichokes are wonderful on this pizza.” ~ Sandy Kunkel
“Beautiful presentation – colorful. Zesty tomato sauce pairs well with green peppers, onions, artichokes and the black olives.”
~ Lori Smith

The Picasso: Alfredo Sauce, Spinach, Fresh Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Red Onion, Bacon


“The Alfredo sauce is rich. I like the combo of spinach, bacon, and mushrooms.”
~ Lori Forseth
“I love the crust – very thin and crispy. We had added chicken, which made for a tasty addition. The Alfredo sauce is creamy and rich.” ~ Sandy Kunkel
“The Alfredo base combines nicely with the chicken chunks. Rich.”
~ Lori Smith

Greek: Homemade Tapenade, Roast Beef, Tomato, Red Onions, Artichoke, Pepperoncini, Feta


“Explosion of flavor. I like the combo of artichokes and olives. The feta cheese goes well with all the ingredients.”
~ Lori Forseth
“Nice combination of Greek flavors – tasty. The beef adds interest.” ~ Sandy Kunkel
“The pepperoncini and green olives make for a zesty and salty combination.”
~ Lori Smith

FAVORITE: Sandy Kunkel: Neopolitan; Lori Forseth and Lori Smith: Greek

TARANTINO’S PIZZERIA

Americano: Tomato Basil Sauce, Mozzarella White Cheddar, Onion, Olives, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni

“The Italian sausage is very flavorful. I love the fresh vegetables and the sauce adds to the pizza – not overpowering the flavors.” ~ Lori Forseth
“Flavors of a traditional pizza but with very fresh veggies, perfect crust.” ~ Sandy Kunkel
“Traditional crust that tastes like fresh rolls from the oven. Not too thick, not too thin.”
~ Lori Smith


Bionic Veggie: Rosa Sauce, Mozzarella White Cheddar, Green Peppers, Mushrooms, Fresh Roma Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic


“I love the fresh vegetables – mushrooms, tomatoes and green pepper.”
~ Lori Forseth
“Delish sauce – very fresh tasting. I’m impressed.” ~ Sandy Kunkel
“Fresh, fresh, fresh tasting.”
~ Lori Smith


Tuscan: Tomato Basil Sauce, Mozzarella White Cheddar, Feta, Fresh Roma Tomatoes, Almonds, Basil, Chicken


“Very flavorful with great spices. The almonds add a nice crunch. The cheese adds lots of flavor.”
~ Lori Forseth
“I love the spices. I love the almonds.” ~ Sandy Kunkel
“Wonderful combination of flavors. The slivered almonds add an interesting bit of sweetness and crunch.”
~ Lori Smith

FAVORITE:  Lori Forseth, Sandy Kunkel, and Lori Smith: Tuscan

TASTING TEAM FAVORITES:

Lori Forseth: Tuscan, Tarantino’s Pizzeria

Sandy Kunkel: Volpetti: Ciao Mambo

Lori Smith:  Americano, Tarantino’s Pizzeria

 

WHERE TO FIND THE TASTING TARGETS

Ciao Mambo, 2301 Montana Avenue, Billings

ON THE WEB: ciaomambo.com

Guido’s 1st Ave Pizza, 3005 1st Ave N, Billings

ON THE WEB: facebook.com/Guidos-Pizza-308052505897272

Tarantino’s Pizzeria, 1102 Grand Ave, Billings

ON THE WEB tarantinopizza.com

 

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