Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

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Anchovies on the thick-thin pizza

posted by in Italian, Restaurants

marinated white anchovies

Of course the anchovies that I’m talking about are not the ones pictured above, which are fresh marinated anchovies from Spain. I just wanted to share this photo that I took at a Spanish food fest. These are really quite different from what I know to be anchovies, which are brown and flat and come in a can. They’re magnificently salty and are the perfect burst of flavor in pizzas and pastas.

When I’m aching for anchovies, I go to A Venetto. This pizza place has been around for a while now. The specific branch that I go to in Glorietta attempts to evoke a New York-slash-Hollywood look. There are photos of New York scenes hanging on the walls, most of which are in black and white, while one wall has sketches of male Hollywood stars (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, et al.) sitting on a bench – or is it a fence? – clad in construction-worker attire. Quirky, but it works. There are tables with tiled surfaces or if you prefer, the booths situated right beside the large glass windows, which I avoid when I’m feeling anti-social. Sometimes I just don’t feel like having passersby gawking at my food and thinking ‘man, they eat a lot!’) And since my gym is just nearby, I’m deathly afraid that my trainer will catch me snarfing down on something he thinks I should have only on the weekends. (!)

So. Good friend and favorite eating buddy Kaie and I have some girl talk to catch up on, which is how we find ourselves at A Venetto. I suggest splitting a pizza and a pasta and since we’re both fans of the anchovy, the decision of what pizza? which pasta? is made for us. “You don’t think that’s anchovy overload?” Kaie asks me with mock concern. “Bring on the little fish!” I declare complete with hand movements.

anchovy-garlic pasta

The pasta is first to arrive. It’s the oil and garlic spaghetti with anchovies (P175). I’m delighted that the anchovy bits have been laid out atop the pasta, which Kaie and I carefully apportion. “You got enough anchovies?” We ask each other in between slurps. The noodles aren’t swimming in oil like most of its kind are wont to do. It may be because of the Parmesan cheese that’s more than generously mixed into this dish that’s good enough for three people. What I especially like are the chunks of roasted garlic strewn throughout and finding one or biting into one is an exciting counterpoint to the smoothness of the noodles, which are sometimes overcooked. This dish may prove to be a bit too much however for people who aren’t as avidly into garlic as I am, and sometimes the garlic is undercooked.

pizza at A Venetto

What you see here is the Howie’s Special (P260) pizza: garlic, cheese, and anchovies – the medium, if I may add, which is 16-inches in diameter, or eight New York-sized slices. I’ve forgotten how majestic this pie is. (Now you understand why I didn’t want to risk having my trainer see me. But we sat in a booth anyway. Yes, Kaie and I did receive stares from passersby. And no, my trainer didn’t catch me. Thank God!)

pizza zits
I’m gonna burst that bubble

The pizza comes to the table practically steaming, and it’s so large that table space needs to be made for it. There’s nothing to do except clear stuff out and give in – yahoo! I’m gleefully exclaiming over the bubbles gurgling under the cheesy surface. The pizza has been cooked in so obviously hot an oven that brown blisters have formed on the crust, threatening to explode their searing interiors. I poke one gingerly and it deflates under the pressure of my finger. Heh, heh. Naughty me.

up, up, and away!
up, up, and away!

Now, I have serious issues when it comes to pizza crust. I’m a thick-crust girl who believes with all her heart that the crust is really the heart of the pizza. The toppings are merely accessories – frosting, if you will. I love my crusts. The famous thin-crust cheese and garlic pizza at Shakey’s is not a pizza – it’s a cracker. I prefer their house-style pan pizzas. Some will cringe, but for me, Pizza Hut pan pizza is the original thick crust pizza. You understand. The pizza at A Venetto however, strikes a nice balance between thick and thin for me. Its outer crust shatters upon impact, while the crust underneath the toppings is a contrast of two textures. I’m impressed: this pizza is the mediator between thick and thin, crunchy and chewy. And it doesn’t scrimp on the cheese, either. As you can see from the photo, the mozzarella is set to fly out the window as Kaie cajoles the first slice from the mother pie. But as with all pizzas possessing copious amounts of cheese, it acquires a gummy texture the longer it sits. Best eaten while hot, yes?

puffy pizza blisters
dive into this

“You know, I think that the pizza has more anchovy than the pasta does. This is where I’m getting my anchovy fix,” Kaie says as she munches away. I can only nod as I eat heartily while wiping away the cheese oil dripping down my chin.

A Venetto
Glorietta 3, Ayala Center,
Makati (beside Zen and Tang City, near Tower Records)

13 Responses to “Anchovies on the thick-thin pizza”

  • What a feast! Please help me-I want to try your cheesecake recipe from awhile back, but in it you pre-heat the oven to one temp, then say cook at a different one. I have a new oven, which I am just getting to know (and have to try out all trusted recipes) so I would appreciate the exact temp.

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  • i’ve always liked a venetto. the food is very good, but more importantly, sobrang mura compared to other italian restos in town. :)

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  • Ah, Lori, you’ll have major slugfests if you advocate the thick crust over thin in certain parts of the US; and you’re not just talking deep dish style. I’m more of the thin crust, I like that crisp over doughy sensation. But give me tons of roasted garlic and, yes anchovies.

    The marinated anchovies in your first shot look wonderful. I love the kind of sweet, vinegary tapas of anchovies with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Great with a good slice of bread.

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  • good photos of the pizzza lori! Now I know why I saw you running in the gym so early in the morning. hehe… :-)

    As for the pizza crust, I like dominoes… (just the crust ok) and yellow cab never fails and price smart/S&R!

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  • hmm. i can’t say i prefer thin over thick crust (vice-versa). let’s just say i consider all pizzas different and one isn’t necessarily better over another. mind you, there are some pizzas that are generally not for me (cardboard-like/tasting crust, supermarket baloney topping)but i supose there will be times when you specifically look for a certain KIND of pizza. am i making sense? i DO like shakey’s, taste of LA’s pugon style, NYPD’s and bellini’s thin crusts. but i’ve recently re-acquainted myself with pizza hut’s pan sytle and that was good too. di marks’ is fantastic if you ask for it well done. Alda’s in malate had a similar crust but it closed recently :(. pizza company….eh. the doughy/bready crusts that brooklyn, yellow cab, s&r, amici and the like offer are good on some days too. just depends on what kind of pizza you feel like eating at that specific time. a lot of examples but there are still loads of pies to discover! i, however, just DON’T get those damned pineapples…….

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  • I didn’t know A Veneto had a Makati branch!!! How long have I been so uninformed?! That place is a fantastic value for money. I’m thrilled to learn I can go more often now, since it’s in Glorietta already.

    I’m a MAJOR pizza glutton; I can literally eat it every day. Mila, who’s seen me polish off a whole Yellow Cab pizza, can attest to this. I love both thick and thin crusts, and the more garlic, the better. (NOT a fan of Shakey’s Homestyle, though.) I could go on and on, but Anonymous Paul already said most of it, including the incomprehensibility of pineapple as a topping. ;-)

    I have to say, Lori, you are less selfish than I. That first slice, with the big brown bubble? I would’ve grabbed it immediately. It’s exactly the slice I would go for the moment the pizza landed on the table. Lucky Kaie!

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  • Gawsh… * drools and attempts to poke one of the cheese bubbles *

    I am also one of those who appreciates salty anchovies (hmm…what food don’t I like?), maybe a bit less than I love my tuyo though. Hehe!

    I do like my pizzas thick-crusted, although sometimes, Pizza Hut’s crust scares me because of the orange oil that they absorb from the toppings. :-O But the cheese and garlic filled ones are just to-die-for! I could chew on them for hours!

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  • yummy! im a pizza pasta lover too.

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  • Ahh. . . Pizza!

    My preferred comfort food.
    Does anybody know where the biggest regularly available pizza is served?

    Brooklyn’s Pizza is 18 inches but they only deliver.

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  • Lori, where was this Spanish food fest?

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  • alda’s closed?!!!! Noooooo….. *weep* (that was my other favorite hangout when i wanted to escape the drudgery of doing research at school…i’d save up my allowance to eat there at least once a month :)–K

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  • i absolutely love pizza!! thanks for the heads up – will be ‘heading’ to that direction in the near future!!

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  • Hmm… I have loved A Venneto for the longest time! Have you tried their Puttanesca pizza as well? The tartness of the anchovies and the tomatoes are heavenly. I haven’t tried the Howie’s Special but next time I go there I will. Oh and I *love* your blog!

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