Venice - Pizza, Pizza, Everywhere
Every guide book, blog post, word of mouth recommendation about Venice says to let yourself get lost, don't worry about a schedule. And it's true, some of my favorite moments in the city came from picking a direction and just wandering, making decisions turn by turn, bridge by bridge. But when you travel this way, occasionally you wander so long that all of the sudden you're exhausted and starving, in need of a chair and a good meal right now. And due to the unstructured nature of my travel I rarely ended up in close proximity (or even in the mood to hunt down) any of the restaurant recommendations I'd haphazardly marked on my map. Thank goodness for pizza and gelato.
When all else failed it was easy (and relatively cheap) to fill up on one of these treats. And after spending my days walking and walking and walking some more, it didn't even feel like an indulgence. Unlike Naples, Venice isn't known for its pizza. Still, pizza seems to be on the menu of about three quarters of Venetian restaurants . None of the pizza I ate was life changing, but it was all good and filling. I don't have any restaurant names or even locations. Every time I had a slice or a pie, it was born of necessity, aka, I was hungry and stopped at the first spot that looked good.
On a rainy evening near the end of my stay I found this slice in Campo San Margherita, quite near my guesthouse. The ultra thin rounds of zucchini were mild with a bit of a crunch, a nice match to the nests of salty ham. I ate under the tiny shop's even tinier awning, trying to keep dry while being instructed by a very intoxicated Italian on the proper way to fold and consume my slice.
I passed this little pizza stall on my way to the Peggy Guggenheim collection. It was popular, with customers crowded around the window, clogging up the narrow alley. After touring the museum, I came back for a slice, the verdure, ('what's on the verdure?' asked the girl in front of me, 'verdure' responded the piazzolo with a smirk.) The 'verdure' were juicy wedges of artichoke and mushroom, which, along with some tangy tomato sauce, made up for the over-cooked crust.
I took a seat a few steps away, on a set of stairs near the canal, trailed closely by an adorably scruffy dog. Clearly after my pizza scraps, the tiny pup was coy about it, turning around and taking a few steps away as soon as I made eye contact, then appearing by my side again when I looked down to take a bite. The (presumed) owner appeared across the water, emerging and laughing at the dog's antics before disappearing back into his shop.
The best pizza of my trip came on my last day in Venice. At that point I was pretty much ready to move on to my next destination. But my flight wasn't until the evening, so I still had the whole day to fill with sightseeing. I spent the morning exploring the areas around my hotel that I had skipped earlier in the week in favor of other parts of the island. I stopped at the first restaurant I saw when the previously sunny sky suddenly clouded over with threat of rain.
When my pie arrived I was a surprised by the raw mushrooms. I expected the arugula and salami to be uncooked, but raw button mushrooms? Regardless, the pizza had a tender, pliable crust and a balanced topping of good melty cheese and bright tomato sauce. And I quite enjoyed the salty, musky salami and peppery greens. A good last meal on the island, not exactly what I anticipated, but fitting all the same.