The pizzas are baked in a ceramic oven, with either a thin or traditional Sicilian crust. Some of the pizzas are pretty creative – one that they especially recommend is the Sfincione – a square pie that has tomato basil sauce, sautéed onions, anchovies, caciocavallo cheese, topped with roasted bread crumbs (Bread crumbs on pizza? Oh yes.), and extra virgin olive oil.
I was pretty surprised by the White Feta Pie – potatoes on pizza – seriously? Yes, seriously. It was amazing and I’m not embarrassed to say that my boyfriend and I inhaled an entire pizza in an extremely short amount of time. Also, I’m not a huge potato person, so the fact that I ordered this pizza a second time in a week later says a lot.
While pizza is the primary focus at Ria Bella, there is a range of salads, appetizers, pastas, and desserts as well. After three visits, our favorite appetizer was probably the zucchini caprese (roasted zucchini with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil), which was presented beautifully. The restaurant is still awaiting an alcohol license but hope to have it soon.
Matt Tymus, one of the owners, grew up in a heavily Italian neighborhood, and as the years passed, noticed that art of good pizza was lost. He wanted to bring back the authentic Sicilian pie. “Anyone can make pizza – but can you make it well?” he asks. The staff at Ria Bella hand-select certain meats and cheeses, an admitted hassle, but worth it for a tastier pizza. Tymus admits, “We want to impress…to wow people.” Everything at the restaurant is homemade, even the array of desserts in the pastry case (which people sometimes just stop in to purchase for a snack).
When looking for spots for a restaurant, Tymus was drawn to Greenpoint, which he knew well from his father-in-law, who lives in Box Street. He found the people in Greenpoint friendly, and thought it was a good fit for the restaurant he had in mind.
Many of the recipes are from staffer Maria Squillaro’s family, with Maria’s own twists and turns. She is very passionate about her cooking, and is creative in recipe development. As time goes on, we can expect some awesome new pizzas from Ria Bella.
Ria Bella, 1049 Manhattan Avenue (between Freeman and Eagle Streets)
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, Noon-10 p.m. (with a lunch special!)
Friday-Saturday, Noon – 11p.m, Sunday: Noon – 9p.m.
Delivery available to Greenpoint and LIC on Seamless and Grubhub