A Saturday afternoon jaunt with Ms. Pie turned into an accidental pizza adventure for the Pizza Snob. While touring the Nashville Farmers’ Market (NFM), I happened upon their surprisingly exotic indoor food court, dubbed the Market House, where instead of the usual Sbarro, I found the locally-owned and operated Bella Nashville Pizzeria. It seems that the Market House is no ordinary food court—so much so that TV show Diners. Drive-Ins and Dives paid a visit to feature its Jamaican dining spot.
Located just off of downtown behind the State Capitol, the NFM is a great place to get farm fresh produce and to explore their rather eclectic flea market. More than just a casual event, the NFM is open 362 days a year from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. although some vendors’ hours may vary. As for Bella, you can catch them making pizza Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Word is they do a brisk lunch business.) Bella works from behind a counter that sits in full view of their wood-fired stove. The Market House provides ample seating for you to sit and enjoy your pie.
Wood-fire joints usually don’t cook up New York-style pies. In these establishments, I have found some solace in Margherita pizzas, and I am not afraid to give one a try. Bella’s chalkboard menu advertises five kinds of pie plus a daily special. Their culinary output comes in the form of a nine-inch individual pie.
Just before closing time I ordered a Margherita for $9. In ten minutes time, my pie arrived fresh out of the oven and was a pretty sight to behold. Sliced into six tiny pieces, it was nicely blotched with dollops of Mozzarella over a layer of crush tomatoes covered with some scattered basil leaves. The end crust was puffed out, but the sight of several black char spots gave hope that it was not under-cooked. My lone remaining concern was that it appeared to be drowned in olive oil. Overall, however, it looked like I was in for an exciting new pizza experience.
I immediately discovered that the abundant oil was tasty, delicious and not over done. Likewise, the same was true for the other market fresh ingredients that made up this small specimen of a pizza. The tiny slices however didn’t get any bottom support from the crust which although quite flaccid, were, nonetheless, delightfully chewy. Four of my six slices vanished in a matter of seconds. I let two sit for a few minutes so I could offer Ms. Pie a taste after she finished her time in the Market. My resistance soon gave way, and I finished the remaining two off before they got cold.
While certainly not the classic kind of pizza that the Snob savors, as far as wood-fired pies go, this was a winner. If the oven would allow it, my only recommendation would be to get that bottom crust a bit crispier. Crispier crust or not, the next time Ms. Pie has a need to visit the NFM, there will be a twinkle in my eye for the impending treat that awaits me there. Bella Nashville sure makes one fresh, tasty pizza!
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****Near Perfection
Bella Nashville Pizzeria
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
(Inside the Nashville Farmers’ Market)
Nashville, TN 37208