by Brent Swan
Larry Salyers, a Wabash resident for many years, recently opened the doors to his new pizza business, Una Bella Pizza Napoletana, 1710 S. Wabash St. According to Salyers, his restaurant replicates an authentic Italian taste and feel, unlike some of the larger-scaled chain restaurants most American have become accustomed to.
“I went out to California and trained alongside two maestro pizzaiolos in Peppe Miele and Jose Barrios,” Salyers said. “Seeing the way they make a pie and the requirements they have to obtain certification for VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana), wakes you up to how much goes into each and every pie. Yahoo! Travel voted us #1 in the world.”
Peppe, Salyers’ mentor, is the individual responsible for certifying restaurants as VPN worthy.
According to statistics published in the Los Angeles Times, the VPN has certified only 200 pizzerias since 1984 – in the world, and only 12 in the United States. Miele’s pizzeria is one of those.
Upon entering Una Bella Napoletana, customers will immediately notice the wide variety of pizzas and toppings available.
“We have a lot of things on the menu, from cheese pizzas to pizzas with fried cuts of calamari,” Salyers said. “Our sauce is also handmade, so even a cheese pizza is going to be a new experience to someone coming here for the first time.”
The cooking process will also catch new patrons by surprise. By utilizing an authentic wood-burning stove, Salyers is able to finish a pizza much faster.
“We cook our pizzas between 800-900 degrees in a wood burning oven,” Salyers said. “It takes anywhere from 90 seconds to two minutes to cook the pizza. Since we cook using wood, charring does occur, but that where you get a lot of your flavor. At any given time, the oven is capable of cooking four or five pizzas at once.”
Salyers also makes many of his own ingredients including his own cheese.
“I come in every day before we open and make our own cheese, a full cream mozzarella,” Salyers said. “I make it a point to order only the best ingredients, some of the best in the state. There’s only one other person from Indianapolis to Chicago that makes it by hand everyday.
“I take great pride in saying all my ingredients are the best I can get,” Salyers continued. “We import our flour and tomatoes. I hand make the dough –I refuse to settle for less than exceptional.”
Although the process of completing the store took longer than even he dreamt, Salyers said it has helped to allow him to pace himself.
“I didn’t know right away the amount of work this was going to take, from starting on the inside of the building to creating the first pizza,” Salyers said. “We’re taking it slowly, but making sure we do it right as we go. There’s a lot of work to create each one of the pizzas we make here, and we want them to be the absolute best you have ever had.”
Una Bella Napoletana is open Sunday, 12 – 6 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday from 4 – p.m. To place an order, call Una Bella at 260-563-7333. For a copy of a menu or for more information, look up Una Bella Pizza Napoletana on Facebook.
“I am excited to get this going, and couldn’t be happier with the response we’ve received so far.”
“We want people to come in and try it out,” Salyers said. “Our pizzas are made to eat here, fresh out of the oven to capture all the different flavors. That’s why we don’t have delivery. If someone wants to carry one out, we can do that, but we really want this to be a sit-down destination.
“When you are eating a pizza you can use all the five senses. The eye is captured by the contrast of the colors; you can hear the crackling of the firewood furnace; you can smell the wonderful aroma of the fresh ingredients and of course taste the exquisite flavor of this fantastic dish prepared with typical Italian products.
“And to finish the act; don’t forget that the pizza is divided into six slices to eat with your hands.”