Dining | Back to Basics: At Pizzeria Seven Twelve, even the Coca-Cola tastes better. 

If you order a Coca-Cola at Pizzeria Seven Twelve in Orem, you’ll get your Coke in a glass bottle from Mexico. The reason is that Mexican Coke is still made with cane sugar, while Coca-Cola in the USA contains corn syrup, because it’s cheaper. Coke made with old-fashioned cane sugar simply tastes better; that’s why it’s served at Pizzeria Seven Twelve. That is a telling detail about a restaurant where everything seems to taste better. Quality matters.

The owners of Pizzeria Seven Twelve are obsessed with quality, and it shows. House-made ricotta is superior to store bought, and so is the hand-pulled mozzarella. Fresh, ripe, juicy tomatoes at Pizzeria Seven Twelve come from Jacob’s Cove Farm simply because they taste fantastic. Ice cream is from Spotted Dog Creamery, and Winder Farms buttermilk goes into the perfect panna cotta. The front page of the Pizzeria Seven Twelve Website—a beautifully designed site, by the way—features a quote by the great Alice Waters: “When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is.” That might seem a tad Zen, but it’s absolutely true. At Pizzeria Seven Twelve, owners Colton Soelberg and Joseph McRae take quality ingredients and make them into something even greater than the sum of the parts.

Soelberg and McRae used to ply their trade at Sundance Resort as executive chef and pastry chef, respectively—and then they caught the pizza bug. Now they spend a lot of time in front of their wood-burning pizza oven making pizzas and chatting with customers from behind the counter that serves as the only barrier separating the “kitchen” from the dining room. Actually, the wood-fired oven is the kitchen. Pizzeria Seven Twelve has no stove, deep-fryer or microwave. Everything that is cooked at the restaurant—including desserts and braised dishes—is cooked in the pizza oven. By the way, “Seven Twelve” refers to the optimal pizza oven temperature, not to an address as I’d assumed.

Damn you, lucky Oremites! I’m jealous. Pizzeria Seven Twelve is so spot-on—from the modern art on the walls and the superb service to the simply splendid food—that this place would be a hit if it were located in San Francisco or Seattle. Seriously. But Orem? I hope you all know how lucky you are. By the time my first Pizzeria Seven Twelve visit drew to an end, I was practically begging the boys to open another location in Salt Lake City or Davis County. Hell, I’d be willing to work there.

This is not your papa’s pizza joint, not by a long shot. To wit, Pizzeria Seven Twelve offers appetizers—on the menu called “a little something …”—like wood-roasted brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts, bacon and vinegar ($6). Or how about this one: White bean stew with house-made sausage and braised duck leg ($7.50). Remember, all these dishes are cooked in the wood oven, including the absolutely spectacular braised short ribs. Soelberg and McCrae braise their beef short ribs ($9) low and slow in a cooler section of the wood-fired oven until the ribs are tender as Jell-O. Then they’re served in a big bowl with toasted Anson Mills polenta and a very mild home-style horseradish-cream topping. The dish is simply awesome.

And so is a Caprese salad of ruby, orange and blood-red colored heirloom tomatoes from Jacob’s Cove Farm served with soft and creamy hand-pulled mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. The plump biodynamically grown tomatoes taste like essence of tomato; it’s as if they were infused with some sort of nuclear tomato nectar. They come directly to Pizzeria Seven Twelve from the vine, where McRae picks them himself.

On to the pizza! Ham and pineapple pie is not an option, and neither is pepperoni. But if you want the best Margherita pizza south of Settebello, Pizzeria Seven Twelve has it. Soelberg and McCrae tested about a gazillion different pizza-dough variations before finally zeroing in on perfection. The pizzas are a bit large for a single serving, but perfect to share. The Margherita pizza is simplicity itself: tomato sauce, hand-pulled mozzarella and fresh basil. The crust is crisp but simultaneously airy, with little charred pockets of gusto.

The menu at Pizzeria Seven Twelve tends to feature rustic dishes and the pizza topped with speck (prosciutto), Caputo’s sopprassata, garlic and mozzarella ($13) is no exception. The wine and beer selection at the restaurant is small, but I found that the Ravenswood Zinfandel ($6.50/glass) worked very nicely with those rustic pies. On the lighter and more adventurous side, a pesto pizza ($12) with corn, roasted eggplant and summer squash was as excellent as it was unique.

Fresh peach and raspberry cobbler ($8) is baked right in the pizza oven and is merely stupendous—truly killer cobbler. And the Pizzeria’s panna cotta had to have been made by angels; it tasted like a dab of heaven. Do save room for a wholesome dessert.

I was surprised at first to see Pizzeria Seven Twelve packed by 5:30 on a Saturday afternoon. But now I get it. Even in Orem, you can’t keep a place this exciting hush-hush for long. It’s a place that Alice Waters would love.

PIZZERIA SEVEN TWELVE 320 S. State, Orem, 801-623-6712, Pizzeria712.com

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