by Alice Levitt
205 St. Paul St., Burlington, 865-2888
With just the Adriatic Sea separating Italy and Bosnia, it's actually surprising that Omer Alicic is the first Bosnian to open a pizzeria in Vermont.
Sofia's Pizzeria has only a few tables and a long counter for seating, but warm orange walls and a flatscreen TV showing the Cartoon Network made it a comforting, homey destination after a long day of work last night.
The bread and, er, mozzarella of the the eatery is 99-cent slices of cheese pizza, but last night there were none. We settled for a pair of more ambitious pieces of pie that cost $1.79 and $2.29.
Though the pesto paired with chicken was pleasantly garlicky, the meat was disappointingly arid.
No such problems on the Margherita slice. The sauce was spread thickly on the slightly doughy crust, and I couldn't have been more grateful. The thick tomato purée was uncommonly flavorful: rich, acidic and herbaceous. Fresh basil added even more flavor, and I was impressed with the presence of chewy fresh mozzarella. If the ordinary cheese slice is anywhere near as delicious as the Margherita, it's one of the best deals in Burlington.
Other dishes have Bosnian roots.
For $5.49, the snail-shaped burek was big enough that we took half home. Though the flaky pastry lacked the buttery indulgence of some versions, the vividly seasoned, if slightly dry, beef made it a satisfying pie indeed. Next time I'll try the sirnica, which is called a cheese burek on the menu, though Alicic explained that only the meat version is really called burek.
Even the spinach salad had a Balkan touch. The fresh spinach and Romaine were topped with walnuts, but also chunky slices of homemade smoked beef. Though unconventional, the jerky-like meat contributed a lovely puff of smoke to each balsamic-dressed bite.
But one of the most exciting parts of my visit to Sofia's is so new, it hasn't made the printed menu yet. Not far up St. Paul Street, the Nutella pie at Pizzeria Verità has inspired a cult following. I expect one to follow soon for Sofia's Life is Sweet pizza.
The fluffy crust is spread with Nutella, then topped with coconut, strawberries and banana. Simple but delicious, the creamy cocoa-hazelnut spread plays wonderfully with the sweet, oven softened fruits. And you can get a slice for $2.99. You know you want to.
With Sofia's located just a few blocks from the Seven Days offices, I think I've met my latest chocolate-y stress eat.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to email@example.com.