Dining Out: Bortolami’s: Pizza, bikes and more

Food served in fun, friendly, inviting setting

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Why: Bortolami’s Pizzeria was established in 1996 and has been family-owned and -operated for 16 years. The restaurant’s bicycling theme boasts about 400 pieces of cycling memorabilia, including a 20-foot bicycle wheel. Why bicycles? Besides pizza, they believe, the bicycle is the greatest invention to come out of Italy.

As for the menu, Bortolami’s offers traditional and specialty pizzas, as well as calzones, strombolli, sub sandwiches, salads, and a few dessert items. Thirteen local regional and seasonal microbrews on tap and 12 regional and Italian wines are also available.

Atmosphere: All things bicycle cover nearly every square foot of ceiling and walls. Seating consists of booths and tables and chairs. Several large screen TVs are positioned for entertainment. Soft drinks, condiments and silverware are help-yourself style at the order counter.

What I tried: I decided on the Primavera specialty pizza (a customer favorite),and I also tried the basic cheese. I added the Pear & Gorgonzola Salad to complete my meal.

The salad consisted of chopped romaine lettuce, gorgonzola cheese, thin-sliced red onion, diced apple butter pears, and walnuts. I choose the balsamic vinaigrette over the honey mustard for dressing. Although the salad did not visually compare to the same variety from a high-end restaurant, it was tasty enough to impress. The pears were warm, which showcased their sweetness.

Of the two types of pizza that I tried, I preferred the Primavera pizza over the cheese. Ranch dressing is used instead of red sauce on the Primavera. The pizza is then topped with generously sized pieces of chicken breast, bacon, a blend of mozzarella and provolone cheeses, garlic, olive oil, organic tomato, and a bit of cheddar cheese. The result was a bit milder than I expected without any distinctive flavor bite-to-bite. I found the crust to be fairly light and non-descript and served as a foundation for ingredients more than a claim-to-fame sort of crust. Overall, the pie had a fresh quality; well-suited for those who seek less impact from flavor.

The cheese pizza had copious amounts of cheese atop a light slather of red sauce, which possessed the essence of fresh oregano.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Another favorite among customers is the Gruppo pizza topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, beef, olives, mushrooms, and a blend of mozzarella and provolone cheese. The Mediterraneo pizza sounded intriguing and would likely pair well with the Greek Salad. A kid’s pizza for 12 and younger is available for $5.95.

Other observations: Take-n-bake options include pizza and breadsticks, as well as dough balls and sauce.

The atmosphere is fun, and the staff is inviting and friendly.

Cost: Pizzas come in small, medium and large sizes. Traditional varieties cost $12.95, $17.95, and $21.95. Specialty pizzas are $13.25, $18.25, and $22.45. You may create your own pizza for $8.95, $11.95, and $15.45 -- additional toppings or specialty sauce is $1 to $2 more. Salads are $2.25 to $6.95. Sandwiches are $4.95. Bruschetta is $2.85. Calzones and strombolli are $7.95 each. Dessert options are $3.45. Take-N-Bake pizzas range from $10.99 to $15.99.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Telephone: 360-574-2598.

Where: 9901 N.E. Seventh Ave., Vancouver. www.Bortolami.com.

Health Score: Bortolami’s Pizzeria received a score of 0 on Aug. 20. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.