«Eat at Venezia and die…from grief» — Agent DiningSmart
Some people say that pizzeria “Venezia”, which is situated on Dostyk Avenue, just above the KIMEP University, has been one of the first pizzerias opened in Almaty. At that time, the most delicious pizza was cooked there, whereas the great variety of its kinds was impressive! Perhaps, that’s true. And, possibly, at those times, pizza was only starting to “sweep the country”. Seeing the dough circle, covered with tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and sausages, was more than enough for a yet inexperienced person to squeal with delight! However, it’s already become a history, and now it’s not as important. Notwithstanding, the way the pizza in “Venezia” is cooked today and how it has changed since those glorious times is exciting to know.
Important to mention, that, as the restaurant is situated close to my house, it suited me the best. Once, on Friday night I went out with the intention to have a sorely Italian dinner. As soon as I walked in “Venezia”, my ardour had considerably diminished. Nobody welcomed me there: a small area in front of the bar, comprised of wooden benches, was empty. And as it was my first visit to the place, I just didn’t know where to go afterwards. Fortunately, a waitress turned up and I (!) asked her where I could have a seat. We came into the large elongated dining room. Only two tables were occupied, whereas the rest of them were free. There were quite a few people in there for a Friday evening.
First, I ordered an espresso, so to speak, to regain my feelings and make sense of what I saw. The best place where I can do it - is the restroom. So I went to the restroom, while they were making me a coffee. Nonetheless, my attempt to relax had failed. The mere sight of a single stall in the restroom was shocking. But I didn’t dare to go to ladies’ room because that’s not the way I was brought up.
Whilst I was taking my espresso with water and examining the room, I tried to assess the design, the construct of the place. There were long tables covered with white tablecloths, electric chandeliers on the columns, paintings depicting Venetian gondolas, and a plasma TV playing Russian pop music. Perhaps, singer Baskov is somewhat associated with Italy and opera, but such Russian artists as Nyusha, Timati and others are definitely not. Hence, the reason why they were there and who they sang for was not clear to me.
Having finished my coffee, I asked for the menu. Wow! 42 different kinds of pizza! This sounds respectable to me. Nonetheless, I decided to start picking dishes from the first course list, which was really short: lentil soup, hodgepodge, solyanka "Kazakhstan", Ca Dario and something else. As I came to the restaurant called “Venezia”, it would have been logical for me to order beef soup with Ca Dario chicken rather than solyanka or hodgepodge. While waiting for the soup to be cooked, I asked for the “Italy forever” salad consisting of mozzarella, tomatoes, lettuce, and olives in the centre. The salad was served in ten minutes. Mozzarella and tomatoes…- Italian classic! The taste wasn’t so bad. Though, it seemed mozzarella could have been fresher. But still it was delicious.
I had to wait for the Ca Dario. Thus, in order not to waste time I decided to go to (No, I would not go to the restroom anymore) Wikipedia. Important to realize, that Ca Dario, or Palazzo Dario, is a palace in Venice which serves an example of Renaissance architecture. To be honest, the soup itself is also an “example” of the Renaissance which you eat at “Venezia” on Dostyk 87A. The combination of beef and chicken along with green peas create a good impression. The price for such a fragrant broth is very low - 650 tenge. Speaking about the second course menu, I chose the steak with cheese sauce, garnished with fresh vegetables called “Florentina”.
Soon I finally got my meal. Having taken a knife and a fork, I started the roast meat. Hmm… chopping “Florentino” was not so easy. After having a piece of meat dipped in sauce, I sent it into my mouth. Yeah. Barely warm, harsh and stringy. Maybe, it has just seemed so to me - I thought. What did I pay 3200 tenge for? Being frustrated, I pushed the plate away. I still had the taste of a poorly cooked food in my mouth. The only thing that helped to eliminate the bitterness in my mouth and soul was a fresh grapefruit juice.
In the light of the mentioned, I decided not to lose faith and not to put a label on the restaurant. In fact, the main thing here is pizza! Additionally, there are 42 kinds of it! After having called for the waiter, I asked him to recommend me the most delicious pizza. The man was staring at the menu like if it was the first time he saw it. So I simplified the task and asked which sort of pizza is the most demanding. The answer followed in a minute - “Devil”! Well, then, I want to try this demonic dough piece, spiced with red pepper, Gouda cheese and salami, served together with chocolate cake "Venice" and the elite Japanese lime tea. I’ve become ravenous after your “fantastic” Florentine steak!
While it was all being cooked, I’ve got a desire to smoke. As there was no separate room for non-smokers in “Venezia”, which is, kind of, right, I smoked outside. The waiter was occasionally glancing at me and he was diligent in doing it. However, he wasn’t that laborious with the rest of his duties. The only time he came to me was when I was happily waving to him. Moreover, he had no answer, every time I asked him to tell me about the dishes and ingredients. Furthermore, the plates with the leftovers of soup, salad, steak, and an empty glass were taken away only after my request for it. It seemed to me that all the mentioned was not due to the staff’s being inert, but just because the waiters were neither trained nor motivated to perform their duties competently. This can also be explained by absence of the special dish labels recommended for vegetarians and children in the menu. In like manner, the lack of information about food calories did also occur. It must be noted, that in Kazakhstan, in contrast to the Western countries, the calorie specifying of the meals in the restaurant and cafe’s menu is a new and narrowly used phenomenon. It’s a pity that there is no option to choose the portion size on the customer’s personal request.
The pizza was great! Thin, crispy batter, Gouda cheese and salami were swallowed with an appetite. According to religion, the devil's number is 666. That is to say, in my case, the devil cost me 1500. Despite that, I didn’t mind to pay 1500 for such a tasty pizza! However, I cannot say the same about the cake, as it seemed it had been cooked a week ago. In the end, I asked to wrap the leftovers of the “Devil” pizza to take with me, so that my girlfriend could try it (she has a devil’s character). I looked at the check. Total - 11 144 tenge! Perhaps, it might be normal for you, but as for me, it is somewhat expensive, especially for “Florentine”!
P.S. The goodbye I received from the man in the cap, who was sitting alone at the bar counter. In my opinion, it was a car driver or supply manager of “Venezia”.