Review: Ti Spiseri & Bar Norway's Best Classic Neapolitan Pizza is Made in Sandnes

In the middle of Langgata, the pedestrian-only main street in Sandnes, the all-day brasserie and bar Ti Spiseri & Bar just opened. Specifically, on December 7th, 2019, just in time for the most hectic month of the year. On the lunch menu, you’ll find traditional Danish smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) and salads, while the evening menu is focused on meat and seafood from the Mibrasa grill, and artisan cocktails from the bar. Pizza is served all day long. If you had told me a year ago that the best classic Neapolitan pizza in Norway would soon be made in Sandnes, I probably would not have believed you. But this is 2020, and I’m here to break the news to you that it is!

Made in Sandnes – No Compromises on Quality

Sandnes is the city where I grew up and the hometown of my family. Obviously, I have strong ties to this area and countless great memories from my childhood. Gastronomically speaking, however, Sandnes is more of a suburb of Stavanger. When I decided to cover the region extensively two years ago, I could not justify making a separate city map of Sandnes yet, so I combined the two into a Stavanger and Sandnes guide. The culinary development is slower here, but one chef and restaurateur is changing that more than anyone else. His name is Ole Dysjaland and he is the head chef at Ti Spiseri. Three years ago, in early 2017, he opened Hekkan Burger. I wrote about it shortly after it opened, and have been back multiple times. There is no doubt in my mind that this is Norway’s best burger. Dysjaland has since expanded with a second Hekkan Burger location in Stavanger, but, at least for now, there is no plan to make it a chain. Quality is too important to him.

– The concept of Ti Spiseri is made for Sandnes, adapted to local demand – but we never compromise on quality. Our focus is to make simple yet good food, grilled over coal. For the lunch smørrebrød menu, we marinate our own herring and make our own roast beef and tartare.

Ole has just served us the starter, a symphony of Danish smørrebrød, and takes the time to explain the philosophy and ambitions of Ti Spiseri. His passion for the craft is admirable.

On the wooden boards in front of us are two varieties of herring, one is pickled and served with a boiled egg and red onions, and another is marinated with curry, shallots, capers, apple, and coriander. The presentations are simple and in line with tradition (served on rye bread, of course) and the flavor of the fish is pure, sweet, and clean. If you still don’t like herring after trying this version, there’s no hope for you. We also try the smoked salmon smørrebrød with avocado, boiled eggs, dill, and mustard, and the roast beef smørrebrød with potato salad, and crispy buckwheat. Later on, we get a classic hakkebøf (or karbonade), a sort of burger on rye bread, with a fried egg and bacon. Even a patriot Dane should be reasonably satisfied with this selection.

Hakkebøf with egg and bacon.
Hakkebøf with egg and bacon.

Norway’s Best Classic Neapolitan Pizza

Pizzaiolo Ariel Montalvo has learned his craft in Italy, of course. That’s not hard to tell when you see the result coming out of the stone oven at Ti Spiseri. Kaitlin and I have tried a lot of Neapolitan-style pizza all over the world. From its humble origin in Naples, Italy, to the new wave of Japanese pizza in Tokyo, to the amazing pizza shack Lilla Napoli outside Falkenberg in Sweden, as well as versions in Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, Stockholm, and Oslo. The pizza at Ti Spiseri could certainly compete with some of the best, and we dare to say it’s Norway’s best classic Neapolitan pizza. Let’s be clear – we’re comparing traditional Neapolitan pizza now. This is not the contemporary style of Franco Pepe (which you’ll also find a version of at Vinoteket in Oslo, by pizzaiolo Beniamino Bilali), which should not be put in the same category. They’re too different.

We started with a classic Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil), which is the O.G. of Neapolitan pizza and therefore the best way to compare restaurants. This was followed by our favorite pie, the Mortadella, with slices of the iconic Italian sausage, stracciatella (the creamy inside of the burrata cheese), truffle pecorino, and pistachio nuts. Both doughs had the right texture: soft and stretchy, but not soggy. A good Neapolitan slice should still keep its structure when folded and eaten by hand. Ti Spiseri passed the test – that means the pizza was not overloaded with cheese and toppings. You could taste that the ingredients had been carefully selected and were of top quality – especially the creamy stracciatella.

Margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil.
Margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil.
This is how a slice of Neapolitan pizza should be eaten!
This is how a slice of Neapolitan pizza should be eaten!

I rarely pick calzone, the oven-baked folded pizza, from a menu. It sounds good on paper, but I generally find that the dough-to-filling ratio is off, and the inside typically comes running out, scalding hot, and ready to burn your tongue. As such, I was skeptical when Montalvo surprised us with his version of calzone, which he was considering putting on the menu. Despite being more than satisfied at this point, it only took a bite each to convince us to finish the third pie (to be clear, we were a table of four). This calzone had that balance I’ve always longed for: a soft bottom, a crispy top crust, flavorful ham, and spicy cheese, served at a temperature that didn’t scorch the roofs of our mouths.

We finished with coffee and a serving of almond cakes, shaped as madeleines, but softer and more buttery than I’m used to. Even this simple dessert was a big highlight at Ti. On the side, they served two dipping sauces: melted chocolate and cloudberry cream. The restaurant was packed with guests this afternoon and I hope it’s a sign of the locals catching on to a truly great new restaurant in Sandnes. We still need to try the full evening menu, the cocktails, and the special dry-aged version of the Hekkan Burger. So, do us a favor and pay Ti Spiseri & Bar a visit next time you are in Sandnes. We need to support great places like this!

Calzone – oven-baked folded pizza.
Calzone – oven-baked folded pizza.
Almond cakes with melted chocolate and cloudberry cream.
Almond cakes with melted chocolate and cloudberry cream.
Ti Spiseri & Bar about to shift into night mode.
Ti Spiseri & Bar about to shift into night mode.

Have you been to Ti Spiseri & Bar? Drop a line below and tell us about your experience.

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