Perhaps one of the hippest restaurant openings of late, Pizza Nono (Italian for ninth), has taken up residence in Salt Lake City's 9th and 9th neighborhood and quickly found a home among residents.
Pizza Nono's menu and concept are designed for speed and self-sufficiency — perfect for the bustling area filled with shoppers and diners. The focal point of the restaurant — the wood-fired pizza oven — can turn out perfectly browned and bubbled pizzas in just a matter of minutes.
An efficient online ordering system lets diners breeze in for takeout orders, and an entire meal can be ready-to-eat in the time it takes to collect your silverware and water from the station near the cash register if you're dining in.
When it comes to the menu, simple and tight are the orders of the day. Pizza Nono owner and chef Will McMaster was inspired by the Brooklyn pizzerias he grew up frequenting, and later trips to Italy solidified his quest for the highest-quality ingredients for the dough and toppings.
Pick from four regular thin-crust pizzas such as the classic Neapolitan staple of the margherita ($10) with tangy tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil on a lightly charred crust. Or take off with the Rocket Man pizza ($12), a three-cheese choice with melted fontina and mozzarella layered with peppery arugula, prosciutto di Parma and a dusting of grana cheese. The Beehive ($11) buzzes with Calabrese sausage, pickled jalapeño and honey, while the sausage and pepper ($13) sports onions, peppers, mushrooms and spicy sausage.
Pizza Nono also highlights a pizza of the week ($13), which one afternoon featured fresh corn kernels, basil and Calabrese that offered textural interest from the crisp corn. And of course, diners can build their own creation with any toppings available.
Each pie is a sharable size, coming in six slices and making mixing and matching with a group ideal. The restaurant even offers a gluten-free crust option for an additional $4.50.
Choose from three greens options that can be shared around the table or as an individual meal, including an arugula salad ($7) with fresh radishes, broccolini ($6) or a kale Caesar salad ($8) nicely coated in a kicky, creamy dressing and topped with crunchy croutons and grana cheese.
Coke products and an impressive selection of Pellegrino waters, along with a few local beers and a red and white wine, are on hand to keep you hydrated.
Similar to many pizza joints I've visited in New York, the indoor dining space at Pizza Nono is small, with a few tables along one side and a communal table down the middle. Unfortunately, when outdoor temperatures are hovering near the century mark, the restaurant begins to feel much like the inside of the pizza oven itself. A tiny hotel-style air conditioner in one corner was no match for either the oven or the wall of windows that streamed in sunlight during the day.
Yet when the sun heads down and the garage door rolls up, the picturesque patio seating suddenly doubles the available dining area and becomes a welcoming respite perfect for relaxing with friends on a summer evening over a slice and glass of vino.
Finally, if you do dine in, you'll want to take note that the restaurant operates on a fast-casual model, with food being delivered to your table but all other elements functioning on a do-it-yourself basis. This self-service nature plays out fully as all of the dishware is of the enamel camping variety and guests are expected to bus their own tables.
For lovers of the Neapolitan thin-crust pizza variety, Pizza Nono is a charming addition to the 9th and 9th neighborhood, offering superior-quality wood-fired pizzas as either dine-in or takeout.
Heather L. King also writes for www.slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches