Today’s post is yet another new place to me. Who knew there were so many pizza places in Atlanta? Despite over a month of what feels like non-stop pizza eating, it doesn’t look like I’ll make it to Verra Zanno’s, Athens Pizza, Johnny’s, Elwood’s, Mojo, and Grant Central Pizza. Most of these places I heard about via reader’s emails, and I’m discovering that people get passionate, nostalgic, and even sometimes territorial about where they eat pie. What’s great is with so many places to try, it’s a non-stop opinion forming, pizza eating adventure. Hopefully you have learned about some new places, you have some level of expectation of a particular location’s pizza style, and you can go decide for yourself!
Located on Lenox Rd, in the same development as the Roaster’s, their tagline is “America’s Only Authentic Sliceria”. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, as there are plenty of places that predominantly sell pizza by the slice. I may be reading into that slogan wrong, maybe it’s not that they are the only authentic sliceria, but that they are the only sliceria that serves authentic pie? Their website claims their superior pie is due to “exciting” ingredients, traditional toppings, and Italian water.
The marketing of a particular type of water is interesting. I’ve heard the “NYC water” argument, but never anything regarding Italian water. I have a hard time believing that there are different results from any filtered water. Show me some data on that and I will put my foot in my mouth. I’m quite flexible, I can do that.
Pizzeria Venti earned a solid review from Jennifer Zyman on Creative Loafing, so I was looking forward to this excursion and the promise of authentic pie.
While pizza slices are their thing, I have resolved to only order whole pies. So I ordered a large pan – half basil/tomato and half meatball and peppers. The basil/tomato for “official judging” and the meatball to satisfy my personal craving. I was told it would take 20 minutes so I ordered up three of their bocce balls, which had been recommended to me by the extremely friendly server. You order at the counter, but there are servers who bring your food and even refill your drinks.
Anyways, the bocce balls are meatballs wrapped in dough, which they warm up and top with marinara. These were actually pretty good, not amazing, but better than expected for something that isn’t cooked to order. The meatballs were rather large, soft, not grainy, and had good flavor. I would say these are worth a go if you like meatballs.
But you aint’ here for meatballs, at least not today, so the pizza scores are below.
Dough (score – 2/5)
- “Pan style, but not too thick, a slightly gummy layer with no endcrust, but some crusty cheese from where the side of the pizza touched the pan”
- Taster’s comments – “Crust was doughy and gummy. Didn’t like it. No endcrust at all.”
- Taster’s comments - “The pizza was a little heavier on the dough than I normally prefer. But, I’m used to a different pizza style so that could be my problem. The dough could benefit from a little more flavor.”
Sauce (score – 2.5/5)
- “very little sauce on the outside slices, ok amount, didn’t have the acidic twang I like from pizza sauce”
- Taster’s Comments – “Tomato chunks! Decent flavor, could use some additional seasoning. Nice consistency, though (love the chunks). ”
Cheese (score – 3.0/5)
- “Plenty of cheese, on par, the standard cheese you expect from a normal pizza place”
- Taster’s Comments – “Cheese was flavorful and addition of (what I thought was) fresh mozzarella was good”
- Taster’s Comments – “Cheese was a tad bland, but not distractingly so. Good amount.”
Overall (score – 2.75/5)
- “Not exactly the kind of pie I love, but it is a welcome change of pace. If the sauce had been very good I would have liked this pizza better overall. Plenty of cheese and good sized pie, quite filling”
- Taster’s Comments – “The pizza seemed to reheat well (though, the dough did get a bit soggy). The pizza reminded me of the pizza you get by the slice in Italy. While I normally like a different pizza style, I understand where they were going with this and I think it’s good. Not great, but good.”
- Taster’s Comments – “Overall a good tasting pizza but very irregular (crust & cut)“
Pizzeria Venti is definitely one of the most different pies I’ve had during the series. It was the first pan pizza, and I was really looking forward to it. When I walked in and saw all the slices sitting out in the pan, I immediately thought of my visit to Rome, where the pizza spots in the piazzas stayed open late to cater to the bar crowd and sold large square slices of pan pizza, which they would reheat to order, then I would subsequently devour. I thought it was interested that they sold the pizza by weight.
The crust on this pie made me think of a thinner Everybody’s Pizza, and a lot of people like that style. To me, those places are more about toppings than the dough, but hey, if that’s what you like, more power to you. I actually liked the sides of the pizza that had a crispy, chewy crust of cheese from the sides of the pan, but my dining cohort did not.
The cheese was pretty standard, a little bit grainy, but I don’t think it’s that off from many places around town. The toppings of basil + tomato (which are the only toppings I have been judging) really helped with the sauce, which is my biggest gripe. If this pizza had some tangy, yummy sauce I would be more into this pie. Also, the dough needed salt, so the lack acid from the sauce means the overall pie wasn’t balanced. I wonder if they can address this considering this is a franchise.
The pie wasn’t cheap (around $22 bucks for a full pan with toppings), but it was quite a bit of food. Two or three slices is more than enough for one person, and I had four or five slices to take home. It is worth noting that I liked the reheated slices better. The slices were a bit crunchier, not quite as gummy.
The location is convenient, but it can get slammed in that parking lot. My first attempt to go to Pizzeria Venti was on a Friday; we circled the lot for about 15 minutes looking for a spot, then had to leave. So keep in mind that you may want to go during the early or late lunch hours. The service was outstanding, and I love to see a busy restaurant during this kind of economy, so my recommendation is to give this place a try and judge for yourself. If you like Everybody’s, which a lot of people do, I think this will be right up your alley.