In Naples, Italy, Wayne Sieve and Kendele Noto Sieve fell in love – with pizza. Wayne was inspired to buy an Ooni wood-fired pizza oven for their backyard and quickly got to work developing his own dough recipe. Over the past few years, the couple has returned to the Amalfi Coast several times with one goal in mind: to bring traditional Neapolitan-style pizza to the St. Louis area. Two years ago, they hit the streets with the Noto mobile pizza trailer, offering their take on Neapolitan pies in flavors such as classic Margherita and a potato, prosciutto and hot honey number.
This month, the couple is expanding Noto into a full-service restaurant in the former home of Kendele’s family bakery in St. Peters, Missouri. Here, Wayne cooks those beloved pizzas in a roaring 1000°F hand-tiled oven imported from Italy, alongside wood-fired appetizers such as Calabrese meatballs and fire-roasted eggplant dip served with housemade hearth bread. Inspired by their travels, Noto also serves handmade pastas, Italian soups and an impressive amaro-forward cocktail program. Wayne and Kendele are currently pursuing certification from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana – above all, they want to respect the craft of those dishes that stole their hearts in Italy.
Describe the pizza at Noto. It’s heavily influenced by Neapolitan-style pizza – I always say “Neapolitan-style” to respect the craft of Neapolitan pizza because we’re not truly Neapolitan. Our dough ferments for a total of 36 hours: 24-hour bulk fermentation and 12-hour secondary fermentation, which relaxes the structure of the dough. That’s what leads to the bite on the pizza, the softness of it and the air in the crust. Then we cook the pizza at 1000°F and it’s finished within 90 seconds. People describe it as more of a soupy center with a poofy crust. –Wayne Sieve
Neapolitan pizza is one of the best styles we’ve ever tasted. We like the char: These little black spots, which they call “leoparding,” that’s a signature of Neapolitan-style pizza. –Kendele Noto Sieve
Walk us through some of the pizzas on the menu. We have done a new pizza almost every single week. This summer, we did a seasonal pizza with an olive oil base, local peaches and prosciutto. After the bake, we topped it with arugula, honey balsamic and goat cheese. We also like to feature some familiar ingredients, but elevate them with our spin. Instead of doing a plain pepperoni pizza, after the bake we finish it with Calabrese chile flakes and drizzle it with Mike’s Hot Honey. It’s still familiar ingredients, but it nudges people outside of their comfort zone. –W.S.
How do you strike a balance between classics and more seasonal pizzas? Everything is as seasonally influenced as possible, but we never veer away from our core menu items. More or less, the Campania and Calabria regions influence our menu, but we plan to have monthly tasting menus to explore different regions in Italy. [The differences are] just so drastic; you could drive 10 miles in Italy and find a completely different cuisine. We want to do this not only to have fun and get people to experiment with different things, but also to tailor our menu to the neighborhood. –W.S.
Noto, 5105 Westwood Drive, St. Peters, Missouri, 636.293.2581, notopizza.com