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Tutta Bella's Pizzaoilo and Executive Chef Brian Gojdics

[Photos: Ronald Holden]

Tutta Bella started in Columbia City in 2004 and has since expanded to Stone Way, Westlake and Issaquah. It was named the best independent pizzeria in America in 2011 by the trade magazine "Pizza Today." When President Obama visited Seattle to talk to local business leaders last year, Tutta Bella's founder Joe Fugere was at the table. When Air Force One ordered a pizza back in February, it was Tutta Bella's executive chef Brian Gojdics who delivered it. Eater sat down with him recently.
When did you start with Tutta Bella?
At the beginning of 2004. I was one of Joe Fugere's original hires.

Tutta Bella was the first Vera Pizza Napolitana pizzeria in Seattle, right?
That's right, in March, 2006. The association certifies pizza ovens and restaurants. Tutta Bella's founder, Joe Fugere, has since been elected the association's vice president.

And you yourself?
A couple of years ago, at the big pizza expo in Las Vegas, they also awarded official pizzaiolo certification for the first time to individuals.

And you were the only American to be certified “Gold,” right?
Yes, it was a real surprise.

Is there a higher designation?
There's a "Master Pizzaiolo" certification that I'll be eligible for in maybe, 20 years. Kind of like a lifetime achievement award.

What do you do as an Executive Chef?
A lot of desk work! I work on training manuals, order guides, menu development. I love it, don't get me wrong, but I'm also in the restaurants, making pizza every day. I don't run service, but I hold workshops in each restaurant once a week, teaching pizza-making techniques to the chefs and cooks.

Tell me about the VPN ovens.
Our ovens, we actually have three different models. They're made by Woodstone in Bellingham and work spectacularly well. They're round inside but have a flat facade, the way they would at a pizzeria in Naples. In Issaquah, the oven is covered with Carrera marble. It's a five-foot oven and it works like magic. All the ovens have names from Joe Fugere's family. In the Stone Way store, the names are “Pietro” and “Filomena,” Joe's great-grandparents from Calabria.

What's your most popular pizza?
Our most popular pizza is still the Margherita. Second favorite is the Tutta Bella, which has Isernio's Italian sausage, mushrooms and onions in addition to fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce. San Marzano tomatoes of course.

How do the pizzaiolos in your stores make the pizzas?
We use Caputo 00 flour, which is low-gluten, very powdery. It's not strong and stretchy but it gives the pizzas a light and airy crust. We're going for lightness. We do a cold proof for 48 hours, then bring the dough back up to room temp. If the dough is too cold, it won't hold its shape when it hits the 900-degree oven, and it won't have what I call “oven spring.”

--Ronald Holden

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Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria

4918 Rainier Avenue S, Columbia City, WA 98118 206 721 3501 Visit Website