HIDDEN GEMS, WYOMING’S BEST EATS: Cheyenne’s Bella Fuoco Offers a Western Twist on Rustic Italian Favorites
- Published In: Hidden Gems: Wyoming's Best Eats
- Last Updated: Aug 24, 2023
Bella Fuoco owners Eric and Kelly Dalton use fire to cook pizzas at their Cheyenne restaurant. They chop and use ash wood for the fire and then incorporate the remaining wood chips into mulch in the extensive landscaping and flower gardens that surround the restaurant. (Courtesy photo from Eric and Kelly Dalton)
By Elizabeth Sampson
Special to the Wyoming Truth
CHEYENNE, Wyo.—Outdoor dining is a fleeting thrill in Cheyenne where winter starts early and lasts well into summer. But for those short, but glorious months of perfect weather days, finding a restaurant with a great patio is a well-earned treat in the capital city.
Enter Bella Fuoco Wood Fired Pizza. Its patio is an oasis of flowers and outdoor seating tucked behind a house-turned-restaurant in the neighborhood of the state capitol building and the Wyoming State Museum. A hummingbird mural adorns the back wall, and neighboring buildings and wooden privacy fences provide a wind-block on all sides.
In a word, the patio is perfect. Don’t miss out.
The fact that Bella Fuoco a serves delicious hand-stretched, wood-fired pizza is the icing on the cake—or maybe the pepperoni on top of the pie. Either way, the pizza is tasty enough to pull people into their dining room even when the patio is blanketed in snow.
When I dine at Bella Fuoco, my favorite is the Margherita pizza, which is simply mozzarella cheese, basil leaves and marinara ($11 for a personal pizza or $21 for a large). I’m not alone in my love for this traditional pizza. Owners Eric and Kelly Dalton said the Margherita is the go-to for many of their customers.
I also love a Greek salad on the side, with its tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, Kalamata olives, feta and balsamic dressing. It’s $8.50 for a small, or make a meal out of the $11 large.
According to the Daltons, another popular choice is the jalapeño popper pizza with cream cheese and jalapeños ($14 and $26).
“When it comes out of the oven, we drizzle it with sweet chili sauce,” Kelly said. “It’s a little bit of spice, but not too much.”
Though they will accommodate their customers’ topping requests, the Daltons encourage people to limit them to three or less. That way, the thin Neapolitan-style crust can work its magic without too many toppings weighing it down and keeping it from rising.
For Kelly, who handles the dough stretching duties, the cheesy bread appetizer ($11) is the ultimate comfort food.
Stretching the dough can be physically demanding, Kelly said, especially on a busy Friday night when she might handle 100 pizzas or more. When she first started out, she would wake up at night with aching hands, but said that she now has some secrets for working with the dough—like letting it rise for 20 minutes first.
“You would think stretching dough is pretty easy, but it’s pretty hard on your fingers, hard on your wrists,” she said. “You would think, ‘Why don’t you guys just get a rolling pin and do it?’ But it just doesn’t work. It’s a lot more finger pressing down, pulling it up, stretching. Now I think I can probably stretch one in 30 seconds.”
Eric said everyone stretches dough a little differently—and the taste of the pizza depends on who does the stretching.
The Daltons purchased Bella Fuoco — Italian for “beautiful flame” — from its original owners, John and Maria Kopper, in 2021. (Kelly had worked there as a server since about six months after it opened in 2017.) The Daltons spent years traveling the world with Eric’s Air Force career, including three years in Italy, and after he retired in 2014, they settled down in Cheyenne, where their oldest daughter lives.
Former owner John Kopper trained Kelly on how to stretch the dough, providing tips about consistently making the dough the same each time. Eric said they liked the way the Koppers ran Bella Fuoco, so they maintained the winning formula when they took over.
The Daltons said many customers are from around the world—often people who have flown into Denver and are driving through Cheyenne on their way to Yellowstone or the Black Hills. Eric said they have had quite a few Italians visit the restaurant; one group of four men, who were in town for about nine months, quickly became regulars.
For the Wyoming locals, Kelly hopes they will come in for an easy-going meal.
“Sit down, have a good pizza or salad and have a glass of wine or a beer or a Coke,—just come in and relax,” she said. “Or if you choose to come on a Friday or Saturday, enjoy the chaos.”
Bella Fuoco, 2115 Warren Avenue, Cheyenne, Wyoming; 307-514-2855.