Although Bountiful, Utah isn’t exactly known as a culinary hotspot, the city north of Salt Lake does have its high points. Vito’s, in my opinion, is the best Philly cheesesteak joint in the entire state. And Mandarin is an excellent Chinese restaurant. Boba World is an awesome place for boba drinks, Mo’ Bettahs is the go-to for funky Hawaiian-style fare, and Royal India serves up Indian cuisine that is second to none. Add to those winners one more must-try dining destination: Ti Amo.
Ti amo, roughly translated, is the Italian way of saying “I love you.” And boy oh boy, do I love the pizza at Ti Amo Woodfired Pizza. The name of the small mom and pop (and kids) eatery is said to have originated when Ti Amo owner Mauro Bonfanti shouted “Ti amo! Gloria!” to his would-be wife Gloria Bonfanti. It’s a love story that would eventually lead the couple to Utah (lucky us!) and to bring the best Neapolitan-style pizza I’ve yet to find here. This is seriously good pizza.
In my opinion, the best pizza is also the simplest. You need top-notch ingredients to create a no-nonsense pizza like the Margherita, which is nothing more than dough, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, olive oil, and fresh basil leaves. Without the very best ingredients, a simple pizza like this can quickly go awry and, at too many restaurants, often does. But the Margherita at Ti Amo is pizza perfection.
Aside from the pizza crusts at Ti Amo, which are as good as I’ve had anywhere, the tomato sauce is also spot-on – not too acidic (slightly sweet, in fact), with just the perfect tang of high-quality tomatoes. I can’t imagine improving on either the pizza crust or the sauce. For the Margherita pizza, Ti Amo master pizzaiolo and owner Mauro Bonfanti uses top-quality fior di latte mozzarella, which melts beautifully into that heavenly tomato sauce, cooked at 600 to 650 degrees F. in a wood-fired brick oven which was imported from Italy.
Another favorite Ti Amo pizza is the zippy Diavola, which is tomato sauce, mozzarella, Calabrese salami, and crushed red pepper. It’s devilishly spicy – hence the name “Diavola.” And then there is the superb pizza topped with thin-shaved prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese, arugula, olive oil and balsamic glaze – no sauce and simply heavenly.
In addition to a couple dozen or so pizzas that are always on the menu – including “create your own” – Ti Amo offers weekend specials such as the pizza parmigiana, which is pretty much eggplant parmigiana, pizzeria-style. Other interesting creations include chicken carbonara pizza, a seafood pizza (frutti di mare) with mussels and scungilli, and a ciccia pizza topped with sliced potatoes, sausage, and mozzarella. Although I have to admit, some of the pizza experiments are a little over the top. To wit: pizza patatine e würstel, which is pizza with tomato sauce, cheese, French fries, and sliced Vienna sausages. Pass.
But Ti Amo has more to offer than just pizza, as irresistible as the pizza is. The bruschetta, made with rustic wood-fired bread slices, fresh diced tomato, garlic, basil, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic glaze, for example, is an outstanding starter. Other first courses include fresh Caprese salad, antipasto misto (a mixed selection of Italian cured meats, cheese, veggies, and bread), and garlic focaccia. The from-scratch soups, too, are first-rate, whether you select the bright tasting tomato basil soup or my favorite, the Tuscan farro and beans soup.
Salads at Ti Amo are also noteworthy. My wife and I sometimes share the scrumptious Mediterranean salad with mixed greens, arugula, olives, diced tomato, fresh ricotta cheese, sliced mushrooms, onions, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic glaze.
But maybe what sets Ti Amo apart from so many other eateries isn’t just the award-worthy food, it’s the wonderful Bonfanti family and the friendly ambiance they create for customers. They seem to know most of their dining guests by name and you can bet that whether it’s your first visit or your fiftieth to Ti Amo, the Bonfanti family and staff are going to treat you like you’re part of their family. That’s certainly worth a trip to Bountiful.
Culinary quote of the week:
You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six. — Yogi Berra
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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