925 E. 900 S., SLC || 385.444.3530
Monday–Thursday: 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m.
Friday–Saturday: 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.
Salt Lake’s 9th and 9th neighborhood is a place where I wish I spent more time. The homes are gorgeous, the neighborhood is welcoming and friendly, and its small-business district still holds much of its original, old-school charm. Pizza Nono—whose name is taken from the Italian word for “nine”—is located in a refurbished insurance office building in the heart of this thriving neighborhood. Having heard great things about Pizza Nono from those that frequent the area, we at SLUG thought we should give them a try.
Pizza Nono’s goal, as one of their Brooklyn inspirations, Paulie Gee, described, is to “use really good ingredients on great bread.” And though the pizza is the main star, the cozy simplicity of the restaurant itself offers an inviting first impression to the customer. Diners can sit in the comfortable dining room with a full view of the prep kitchen and wood-fired oven, or they can opt to sit at one of the several outdoor patio tables. Much of the west-facing wall of the shop is made of open bay doors, which create a unique and memorable space by blurring the separation between the inside and outside. If you choose to sit inside, you can watch your pizza be prepared and marvel at how little time will pass before the food makes it to the table.
As the focus of the restaurant is to craft quality pizza made from fresh ingredients, the menu is limited to only a few well-crafted selections. They have four pizzas in regular rotation and a fifth variety that changes from week-to-week. For our first pizza, we ordered the Margherita ($10), a roughly 12-inch thin crust topped with the traditional trio of tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, finished with a touch of grated grana cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Simple enough. The pizza was remarkably good. The crust was slightly sweet and amazingly tender, completely avoiding the leathery pothole that many flatbread pizzas fall into. The crust had enough personality to stand on its own without overpowering the mild flavor of the cheese and herbs. If you’re feeling extra old-world, you can upgrade to buffalo mozzarella for a few dollars more.
Wanting to sample some of Pizza Nono’s own creativity, we also ordered the Rocket Man ($12). This one tops the same luscious thin crust with a mixture of fontina and fresh mozzarella cheeses, a generous heap of peppery arugula leaves, thin strips of prosciutto di Parma ham and more grated grana. Where the Margherita should be praised for its traditional simplicity, the Rocket Man earns praise for its melding of complicated flavors. The flavor of the rich and buttery prosciutto is mellowed somewhat by the mild and nutty taste of the fontina, and their combined flavors balance well with the boldness of fresh arugula (for the uninitiated, arugula is sometimes marketed as “rocket” because of how quickly it grows once the plant gets established—this is where the pizza gets its name). I imagine that this one will become my go-to pizza selection. It is as close to perfect as pizza can get.
In addition to these two pizzas, the restaurant also offers the Beehive ($11). It is made with tomato, fresh mozzarella, Calabrese-style salami, slices of pickled jalapeño and a honey drizzle. It’s perfect for those wanting a bit more spice to their meal. The other pizza on permanent rotation is the Sausage Pepper ($13). This one is topped with sausage, bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms and olives—the closest Pizza Nono comes to having a supreme pizza. And, as is the case with their entire menu, you can add additional toppings like artichokes or boquerones (similar to anchovies) for a nominal charge. They also have a weekly special. Customers can vote for their favorite featured varieties or even suggest their own through the restaurant’s website. Possibilities include pizzas topped with goat cheese and another with Meyer lemons.
Though my emphasis has been on the solid pizza menu at Pizza Nono, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention their sides. To complete our meal, we ordered the Arugula Salad ($7). We were served a generous and sharable portion of arugula leaves tossed with a lemon vinaigrette and topped with grated cheese and sliced radishes. The slight spice of the radishes married well with the crisp salad greens, and the dressing was tart and perfectly acidic. They also offer a kale-based Caesar salad and a few different seasonal vegetables (currently asparagus and beets)—perfect if you’re wanting to avoid filling up on carbs.
In all, I have really enjoyed the meals I’ve taken at Pizza Nono. The staff is passionate and friendly. The location is familiar and inviting. The food is fresh, phenomenal and creative. And where pizza can often be relegated to the column of junk food in today’s reality of chain delivery stores, it’s refreshing to know that this one shop on 9th and 9th is focused on getting it right—focused on creating pizza that is so good and fresh that you could feel good about eating it every day.