Heading back north on the Eastern seaboard, the next stop was Richmond, VA. Ever-hungry for another slice, the AAA travel book pointed me in the direction of Sette.
The building used to be an old carriage house, the date of which I wasn't able to find out. If that isn't enough of a mystery for you, take a look at the oven:
Just what the hell is going on here? Sette's slogan is "fire-roasted pizza." Okay, fair enough, but there are no signs of wood or coal to speak of, and based on the picture, it looks like a gas oven disguised as a brick oven.
After receiving my 'florentine' pizza (spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, mozz and feta), the jig was up. Definitely a gas oven, there was no charring anywhere on the pizza.
The bottom crust had an even, brown tone to it- totally characteristic of a gas oven.
You can tell how flat the pizza is- usually telling that the dough was abused by a rolling pin before the toppings were added. Any existing pockets of CO2 in the raw dough are smushed by doing this, preventing the final pizza from having a fluffy, chewy cornicione. Bad move.
Were they going for a thin crust? If so, it was a failure. The crust was thick, just boring and like I said, flat. On a more positive note, the ingredients were very tasty
At the same time, it doesn't take world-class pizzaiolo to put fresh toppings on a pizza. More and more I find myself focusing on the crust when grading pizzas- arguably the most difficult step in making a truly unique and tasty pizza.
Mom got the Margherita topped with tomatoes. Same story as my florentine.
At least they remembered to throw some basil on this trainwreck. B-O-R-I-N-G.
Sure, the atmosphere and beer list and setting were all enjoyable, but having since read a long list of positive reviews of this place, I'm just disappointed. It's one thing if you don't know how to make a good pizza, but it's another if you're duping Richmond...ites (?) into thinking they're getting a real brick oven pie.
Again, let the pizza, not the restaurant do the talking. Shame on you Sette!
IN CONCLUSION: with the exception of a successful franchise (Mellow Mushroom), none of the pizzerias I visited in 'the South' seemed to have a clue how to make a great hot slice. The pizza in New York really is better.