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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cheap Eats: Pizzeria Venti

click to enlarge PIE TASTERS: The Grande Max
  • PIE TASTERS: The Grande Max

Returning holiday gifts at the mall is my own version of hell. But there I was at Lenox and my stomach was violently growling to make matters worse. The food court wasn't an option, so I texted my friends for ideas. One person reminded me Pizzeria Venti (2770 Lenox Road. 404-228-2013. www.pizzeriaventi.com) had recently opened down the road.

The restaurant's a franchise, with locations scattered throughout the country. The staff here was genuinely enthusiastic about the menu and the food coming out of the kitchen looked tasty. Pizzeria Venti’s specialty is pizza al taglio, roughly translated to “pizza by the cut.” The handmade pizza ($3-$4.50/slice and $15-$22.50/pan) is cut into squares, heated in a special oven and served on a nifty metal dish. The sauce didn’t taste overly processed and the cheese had a nice roundness to it, but I just couldn’t get past the Pizza Hut-like thick crust. The Timpanini ($6.50), however, showed promise. It resembled a round, deflated calzone and came with a side of marinara for dipping. The pillowy crust was slightly sweet and the provolone, mozzarella, pecorino and herbs filling was creamy, yet light.

Lasagna al forno ($7.75) — which a staff member couldn't stop raving about — had the perfect amount of cheese and a tasty meat sauce. My favorite item was a side of tender and well-seasoned meatballs ($4 for three). Bocce Balls ($7 for three) are a fun and decadent take on the same meatballs: They're wrapped in pizza dough with marinara and cheese and baked until the crust is golden brown. My one bite of Dutch fudge cookies and cream gelato from the large assortment showed promise; it was thick, creamy and without one ice crystal to be found.

In short, the restaurant's no culinary revelation, but it's a great option for harried folks looking for a hearty bite at a good price.

(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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