On a recent Keys 2 the Coast trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to explore Sicily, Venice, Florence and Portofino. While every moment was wonderful, every bite of food delicious and the scenery magnificent, it did not escape me that some of the magnificence of Italy is similar to what we have here on the California Central Coast. Specifically, the beautiful vineyards, pristine coastline and fantastic food.
Home Sweet Home
One of my favorite restaurants in Northern Santa Barbara County is Pizzeria Bello Forno. It’s located in Old Orcutt in the Santa Maria Valley, which is approximately 60 miles north of Santa Barbara and 20 miles south of Pismo Beach. Old Orcutt is a charming little town brimming with great places to eat, quaint little homes and boutiques, tasting rooms, breweries, and a fantastic wine bar called Vino et Amicis.
Keys 2 the Coast loves Pizzeria Bello Forno for the matchless warmth guests experience. It’s comparable to walking into a roomy, welcoming Sicilian family kitchen. Immediately, the glow of the wood fired pizza oven sets the mood. Owner Bob Spallino named the restaurant Pizzeria Bello Forno, an American rendering of “beautiful oven” in Italian.
Seat yourself at a high, party-size table or select a cozy booth for a romantic meal. The charming outdoor patio is an ideal place to sip and savor in the California sunshine. The bar in the main dining area is where locals frequently belly up for great conversation, a cold brew, glass of Italian or local hand-selected wine, and where guests can enjoy the entertainment of watching their pizzas being artfully prepared in an oven imported from Tuscany. I can honestly say that Pizzeria Bello Forno’s pizza, from their beautiful wood fired pizza oven, rivals the best of what we enjoyed in Italy.
Bob Spallino traces roots to Castlevetrano, Sicily. One of 7 children growing up in Southern California, Bob’s first job in the restaurant business was at age 13 selling hot dogs on the beach in Malibu. Since that time, Bob has come a long way since working the hot dog stand at Neenies Famous Weenies. His love for making pizza and vision for business and quality of life turned into a beautiful restaurant and catering service.
“My wife Kirsten and I have created Pizzeria Bello Forno as the space for our family to prepare home-style delicious food in a place that has brought our dreams to fruition. We are dedicated to our family, faith and community, and feel truly blessed to live in such a beautiful place. It’s hard to believe we’ve already been here in Old Town Orcutt for two years.”
The Spallino’s clearly work well together and have passion for what they’ve created. Son Stefan always has a big smile and a great sense of humor to make the experience even better. You can catch his brother Gian at the pizza oven, cooking up a masterpiece. The pride the staff exudes speaks volumes.
Kirsten Spallino shared, “Our motivation for the business has always been to make people feel loved through thoughtfully prepared food and caring service.”
It’s official -Locals love it.
We recommend reservations for dinner due to their popularity. Bob became certified as a pizzaiolo through the Verace Pizza Napoletana training program and the food closely models the verace guidelines, with some “poetic license” to craft California inspired cuisine. Their decision to be independent allows for more creativity, the ability to utilize local ingredients and create different types of pizzas inspired by seasons and our region. One of the newest menu additions is the Three Beer Naughty Oak Pizza inspired by Naughty Oak Brewing Company, which is located down the street from Pizzeria Bello Forno. Andouille sausage and cajun spices give this pie a kick that may have the guests lingering over just one more brew!
We are lucky to have Italian family restaurants here on the Central Coast offer a taste of Italy in our own backyard. Pizzeria Bello Forno in Old Orcutt, Arnoldi’s and Toma in Santa Barbara and Giuseppe’s in San Luis Obispo are some of our top Italian choices.
Teresa Coelho Halvorson, a new fan shared, “I’ve seen so many posts on Facebook about Pizzeria Bello Forno, that I’ve been dying to try it. My lunch is delicious, and this place is so warm, inviting and friendly. I love family-style Italian cuisine. I can’t wait to come back to try a few more of the menu items. It was hard to decide what to order today. The Chicken Bianca Pizza was incredible.”
“I think my fiancé and I are Pizzeria Bello Forno’s biggest fans. We eat there two to three times per week and everything we order is absolutely delicious,” said Kris Neely.
Pizzeria Bello Forno is a place to go for superb Italian Cuisine. You’ll go back because the ambiance, food and people are incredibly enticing.
Pizzeria Bello Forno is located at 119 East Clark Avenue in Old Orcutt and is open for lunch Wednesday thru Friday from 11:30am to 2pm and dinner from 5pm to 9pm. They are also open Saturday from 11:30-10:00pm and Sunday from 11:30am to 7:30pm. Reservations are available for parties of 4 or more and Pizzeria Bello Forno is an excellent choice for catering.