I just received another tip about another artisanal pizza place. This one-called Pizzeria Toscana-is in Sandy. I just visited one new-to-me, Arella, in Bountiful, last week.

We're talking flour-specfic crust, wood-burning oven, San Marzano tomato, fresh mozzarella pizza. Meticulously made, painstakingly sourced. No need to stuff these crusts.

And it all goes to support one of my pet food theories: pizza is the gateway drug to gourmet food. Once folks develop a taste for a familiar food made with top-notch ingredients, they start wanting everything else they eat to be just as high quality. You know, it's a classic question:

It's a slippery uphill slope.

I don't just make this shit up. There is hard, historical evidence. Does anyone out there remember Wolfgang Puck (not the airport food/frozen food line, the live chef)? Does the word "Spago" mean anything to you?

Before the Food Network, before Emeril or Rachael or Jean-Georges, there was Wolfy. In 1982 he topped a pizza with smoked salmon and caviar and served it up to Hollywood stars. "Designer pizza" was born, and it spread across the country's kitchens, which have never been the same. That marked the beginning of the first new American food revolution. Way before you could say "parmigiano-reggiano," designer pizza inspired a lust for fresh pasta, baby vegetables and heritage fruits.

I had lunch at Settebello last week; ordered the margherita-an absolutely simple affair with a fragrant, bubbled thin crust. The pizzeria opened about four years ago to instant enthusiasm, and not long after that Joseph McCrae and Colton Soelberg opened Pizzeria 712, proving the power of pizza even in Provo. (Brad, that line's for you.)

Now look what's happened. The Wasatch Front has more good restaurants in business than ever before. See? I maintain that high-quality pizza has made these places possible by introducing Everyman's palate to the joys of fresh, meticulously made food.

Top five geographically diverse pizza places to try besides the one I haven't tried yet that started this whole story: Settebello: Salt Lake City Pizzeria 712, in Orem Jack's Woodfired Pizza, inLogan Arella's, in Bountiful Zucca Trattoria, in Ogden

We can happily say farewell to the grease-sodden salt bombs that generations of Americans have gorged on and called pizza. To misquote the Bard, it's a brave new world that has such pizza in it.