Going out for pizza tends to be a pretty casual dining experience, but we like to think that grabbing a slice at Bambolina in Salem is still a special night out. With a subtly elegant dining room and a good craft beer list (and wine, naturally), Bambolina serves up some of the best pizza in Salem. The owners' love for wood-fired baked goods extends past their "neo-Neopolitan" style of pizza with Bambolina playing host to Salem's hottest pop-up bakery, Rover Bagel. Visit these two businesses in a weekend for some of the best pizza in Salem and delicious handmade Montreal-style bagels.
Bambolina means "little girl" or "baby doll" in Italian, taking inspiration from the fact that owners Larry Leibowitz and Tim Haigh each have two daughters. The pair opened the Italian restaurant in 2015, serving wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and vegetable-focused small plates on Derby Street, just a 5-minute walk from both of our boutique Salem hotels. The interior of the restaurant is a covetable rustic-meets-industrial look, like the kitchen of a really hip nonna. Of course, the main attraction is the wood-fired oven, which heats pizzas to 925 degrees F and creates those signature flame-blackened blisters on the crust. In addition to the best pizza in Salem, we love the zucchini "ceviche," thinly sliced, marinated zucchini topped with lemony dressing and crumbly ricotta salata.
And rather than letting that signature oven sit idle in the mornings, Bambolina hosts another Salem business that makes delicious carby treats. Rover Bagel has been popping up inside of Bambolina on weekend mornings since the summer of 2016, specializing in Montreal-style bagels which are known for a sweeter flavor and crackly wood-fired exterior. Those looking for a sweet fix will want to try the cinnamon buns, but they go fast, so get there early if you're determined to try one. Buoyed by its success in Salem, Rover Bagel is moving to a permanent home in Biddeford, Maine soon—but don't despair. Biddeford is only a short distance from our boutique hotel Captain Fairfield Inn in Kennebunkport, so you're never too far from your next wood-fired carb fix.