Eleventh Stop: Buona Vita Pizzeria
Date: March 24th, 2012
Location: 441 6th Avenue Dayton, KY 41074
Perhaps when Rivers Cuomo, of the band Weezer, lamented that he wanted to “get back to the good life,” a tasty Italian experience is what he yearned for, along with all that shakin’ booty and makin’ sweet love mentioned in the song The Good Life. After all, what’s NOT to love about enjoying a relaxing Saturday afternoon with friends over a delicious pizza or two? It is the good life, or “buona vita” in Italian, that the Frommeyer brothers and their extended community of family and guests seek, and they seem to be doing a great job fulfilling that mission here in Dayton, Kentucky.
With its location just down the street from a dear friend’s house, this restaurant has always been on a mental to-do list for Robyn. It seemed as if everyone BUT her had gotten a chance to enjoy the food at Buona Vita at least once before, Courtney included. Residing in an old bank building in Dayton, KY, the restaurant offers a full menu of classic Italian cuisine amidst a quaint, unique atmosphere. It is a fantastic place to take a date or to catch up with an old friend. We were seated in the spacious booth called “The Vault,” which used to be the actual vault from the bank that was formerly housed in the building. The gorgeous door to the vault hangs open, giving other diners a peek into the cozy and secluded little spot. It is our understanding that many people make reservations specifically for the vault, but as luck would have it, none had been made during our spontaneous visit. So in we went!
|Our view from the vault.|
There were two special guests on this visit-Matt and Bridget. It’s nice to vary the routine from time to time, and we also relished the possibility of trying more pizza than we would if it had been just the two of us. This also made the vault seating a little more sensical – it would be a pretty large dining spot for just two people. Four diners v. two does provide some slight complications, such as ordering food that everyone agrees upon, and splitting the leftovers and the bill fairly. However, it was worth it to let Matt and Bridget gain the experience that is Top This while spending some quality time with one another. We are sure that they agree :)
|Matt and Bridget, basking in the honor of special guest-dom|
Our waiter was patient with us as we negotiated our selections. We ended up going with two selections. The Calabrese is described simply as extra hot pepperoni pizza and the other is a variation of the Pewee’s Pizza Bianco. Believe it or not, we are having trouble remembering its exact name and cannot find it anywhere online. We know that it builds upon the Bianco, which is a white pizza featuring oil, Italian spices, cheese, and spinach. This particular pie adds prosciutto and (we think) black olives to the mix. It was possibly called the Giuseppe, or the Bianco Giuseppe, but we are not 100%. Generally on our outings, one of us tries to write down the pizza name, featured ingredients, and some quick, immediate notes. With our special guests there, we seemed to forgo this busy work for good conversation; well, if we are honest, for immature jokes and end-of-week venting.
As we waited for our pizza delivery, Courtney and Matt split an appetizer of mozzarella filled breadsticks, “Little Joey’s Cheese Filled”, which they really enjoyed. These were an indulgent treat. We know that fried bread and cheese is not good for you, but we don’t care because we like it. It wasn’t long after they finished these up that our cute tattooed waiter carried over two piping-hot-out-of-the-stone-oven pizzas.
|Bread. Cheese. Yummmm.|
We first present you with a warning: The Calabrese is not for the faint of heart. We just could not handle the overpowering heat from the spicy pepperoni, as much as we tried. Robyn tried peeling the pepperoni and cheese off the top in a last ditch effort to not waste any of the crust, but it just wasn’t possible. The oil from the pepperoni soaks through to every last bit, making every bite of the pizza incredibly spicy. Courtney ate a bite, took a drink, ate a bite, took a drink (repeat). It didn’t help. Matt and Bridget are built from a stronger heat threshold, and enjoyed that pie a lot more than either of us did. This was good, because we would have felt bad about wasting so much pizza. The thing is, if it wasn’t so damn hot, we think it would have been really awesome. They were not loosely using the term “spicy” on their menu. If you’re a fan of really spicy food and can handle it, you will probably LOVE this pizza! All of the great pizza elements are there, but if you can’t get your taste buds past the heat, that’s all you’ll be able to focus on.
|Hot hot heat.|
The other pizza, the “Giuseppe”, we’ll say, was much more enjoyable to both of us. The lightly charred, crisp-bottom crust was nearly cracker thin and maintained a light crunch under the fresh, tasty toppings. The prosciutto was salty, as it should be, but not overwhelming (like the Fratelli’s sausage). The cheese was buttery and well spiced with Italian herbs, and the spinach was daintily placed on top, cut into teensy tiny thin strips. While Robyn typically prefers a doughier, thicker crust, she still enjoyed this pizza. Courtney prefers thin crust pizza, and this was thin on a new level. It’s so thin that it seems it would be easy to burn to a crisp. Rather, Buona Vita has perfected their cooking methods through an opulent heritage of food and technique.
|The pizza with the name we can't remember.|
The pizza at Buona Vita is made with the “labor of love”; the way all great pizzerias craft their wares. They describe their rich family history, daily food preparations, and ingredients in a brief narrative on the menu. In short, the recipes, which originate from family in Italy, have been handed down from multiple generations and made with great care in the restaurant named after the Bonavita family. A stone oven, reaching 600 degrees, cooks the made-to-order pizzas and calzones to traditional perfection for the hungry crowds that gather in this welcoming atmosphere. Though we didn’t have any of their homemade cookies or desserts, we have heard great things about them from friends and web reviews. Next time, we’ll take advantage of these traditional Italian sweets after taking pleasure in more of this crispy, flavorful thin crust pizza. But, you can bet your spicy-hot bottom dollar that it won’t be the Calabrese.