Chef Juan Manuel Barrientos’ El Cielo remains one of my favorite restaurants in the valley, so when I saw he was opening a new pizza place, La Serenissima Venezia, I recruited a friend and we went to check it out.
Located across the street from El Cielo, La Serenissima Venezia opened its doors to pizza fans in late March.
If the name doesn’t give it away, nor the staff dressed like gondoliers in black pants and striped shirts, this is a Venetian-themed pizzeria.
And Venice happens to be one of my favorite cities in the world. I spent a few nights there as recently as 2012, enjoying the hum of the vaporettos (water buses) on the Grand Canal and getting lost in the narrow alleyways.
The facade and exterior of La Serenissima Venezia have that same old-world Italian feel to them. Two trees help add some privacy, while several small tables offer diners an al fresco option when the weather is nice.
The interior features exposed red brick with a wine rack at one end and a chain link fence holding decorated locks at the other. I’ve encountered more than one European foot bridge with locks, the names of couples written on them as a testament to their love.
At La Serenissima Venezia, there are four different size locks for sale, ranging in price from 5,000 to 12,000 pesos ($3 to $6.50).
The small size of the interior, with no more than six to eight tables, creates an immediate feeling of intimacy.
But enough about the interior design, let’s get to the food. The restaurant offers a simple, one page menu, with an emphasis on fresh, high quality ingredients.
Appetizers include burrata with cherry tomato, pesto and a balsamic reduction (16,000 pesos, $8.50), and tomato soup (14,000 pesos, $7.50).
The pizzas are all thin-crust, as you find in Italy, and categorized in one of three ways:
- Red (tomato sauce base)
- Green (mostly veggie toppings)
- White (for cheese lovers)
Prices range from 18,000 pesos ($9.50) for the basic margarita to 25,000 pesos ($13) for the four cheeses option, which includes camembert, blue, parmesan and bocconcini (a type of mozzarella).
I opted for a glass of the house red wine and the smoked bacon and caramelized onion pizza for 20,000 pesos ($10.50). I’m a sucker for caramelized onions, and will always choose that topping above others if I see it on a menu.
My pizza arrived on a black dish, the chunks of bacon glistening with oily goodness. The pizza was terrific, but I couldn’t finish it, so I took a few slices in a doggy bag. My friend had to do the same with her margarita.
I can attest to the pizza being as good cold, as it is fresh out of the oven, as that’s the way I ate the rest of mine the following day.
If I’d had room for dessert, it would’ve been a tough choice. The two options include tiramisú, the classic Italian dessert, and a chocolate chip cookie that comes out piping hot from the oven. Both are 16,000 pesos ($8.50).
La Serenissima Venezia is the perfect date place, small and intimate, and not easily discovered walking around on one’s own. But it need not be limited to romantic rendezvous. You’re as likely to see families and friends dining there as couples.
PS – I’m not sure if they take reservations but you can give them a call and ask. If not, plan to arrive a little ahead of the typical lunch or dinner rush, as seating is very limited.