Tuli's Salumi Pizza
On a recent cold and wet Sacramento night, exhausted from dealing with the holiday crowds, a friend and I braved the elements and made our way to the Tuli Bistro. Upon entering, we were greeted by warm wafts of pizza from the wood-fire oven tucked behind the counter and a cheery staff member. We were given a choice of dining at one of the bistro tables or on the enclosed veranda. The restaurant itself is long and narrow and care was taken to accent the small space with tasteful decorations. Although the outdoor seating was equipped with heat lamps, we opted to dine in the cozy dining area.
Our waitress Jennifer (?) came by and brought us the night's menu and wine list. She explained that as a new establishment they were still fiddling with the menu and experimenting as to which dishes to keep. The wine list had a decent selection, with a potpourri of choices. Unfortunately, they were out of both of our first two selections but Jennifer suggested an alternative that she thought we might enjoy and offered to bring us a taste. With our beverage orders placed, we turned our attention to the night's menu. The menu was short but sweet, reflecting a smattering of salads, pizzas and small entrees. As my dinner companion had never experienced beets before, I voted that we go for the beet salad. The salad was perfect--fresh with a hint of subtle sweetness. And the beet virgin became an immediate beet convert. For our main courses, my fellow Yelper went with a piping hot personal sized pizza called the Humboldt and I elected to try the ahi puttanesca. The ahi was a bit on the salty side and I felt that the kalamata olives lended an odd aftertaste to the sauce; somehow the two just didn't jive together well. Overall, the dish was satisfactory but nothing to write home about. My friend's pizza on the other hand was quite tasty. The Humboldt's thin crust was crisp without being overdry and the toppings (herb pesto, mozzarella, oven-dried tomatoes, and feta) intermingled harmoniously. Although I'm lactose intolerant, the pizza looked so damn good that I threw caution to the wind and danced with the devil I call dairy.
Throughout our meal, Jennifer routinely stopped by to check in on us as did the other waitress working the floor. We were well cared for from start to finish- plates were cleared smoothly, water glasses were kept filled and there was never a feeling of being rushed. The staff members seemed to relish working there and were eager to assist. My dining companion and I were having such a great time chatting that we decided to stay a bit longer and indulge in splitting a dessert. I'm not sure if Tuli makes their desserts in house but the lemon creme brulee that night was divine. As someone who's prepared many a brulee in her lifetime (all those years waiting tables), I know how easy it is to overtorch. Our brulee was crispy perfection.
As a resident of Midtown, it's great to see more and more independently owned neighborhood restaurants open up. Adam Pechal's done a great job converting the small quarters into a warm, inviting eating establishment. I've heard they do a bustling lunchtime business but I think Tuli is better enjoyed on a quiet, weeknight. You get attentive service and can indulge in a relaxing meal. The entree prices are a bit high but as they are using fresh, local ingredients and are a small business, I can see how they need to charge a little more to cover their overhead. Hopefully in time, they'll expand their dinner menu as I'd like add Tuli into my regular rotation of Midtown eateries. I do have to admit though that I raised an eyebrow when a well-meaning coworker advised me that the term "tuli" refers to a ritual circumsion in the Phillipines. Ouch!