The pizza at Pizzeria Venturi comes with a set of questions.
The first one is, “Are you going to share?” though presumably you’ve dealt with that in the ordering. If you find yourself needing more pizza, it only takes a couple minutes to make due the high heat of the wood-fired oven.
On Saturday, the first night of Goshen Dining Days, one of the questions was whether a place could get busier. There was a 40-minute wait at 5:30 p.m. The place was crowded.
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Turns out, the owners are working to deal with that question. Eric Kanagy, Troy Pippenger and Justin Venturi have purchased the building next door, the former Hoogie’s Sports House at 119 E. Lincoln, and are planning expansion. Kanagy said there aren’t concrete plans or a timeline, but they want to have a real bar and expand seating. It could take most of this year to get the project done, but demolition is underway.
A larger Venturi is great news, but there’s another key question while we wait for that. It’s simply how you’ll eat this pizza. It’s about 12 inches across and comes uncut on a large plate.
You could cut it into wedges as you would a pizza at other places. That’s your call.
Theoretically you could fold the pizza up and start gnawing, but that would likely cause a scene.
If you were so inclined, you could cut it into shapes and delight in them, but trying to turn what’s already a work of art into another piece of art would take time and you’re hungry and it’s probably better if you just start eating.
What I do, and I’m not saying it’s right but it’s what works for me, is to cut it into fourths and fold it. That keeps the toppings from falling out as readily. It reminds me that I’m not eating a flat ol’ piece of pizza like I would at other places. It’s what makes me happy.
It’s not hard to be happy at Venturi. Since opening just over four years ago, the place has gotten national acclaim for its pizza, it’s approach to food.
This is not a place for the gluten free, but business is booming. Apparently not everyone has given up gluten.
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During Goshen Dining Days, as part of the dinner for two special, you can get a fougasse or herbed garlic flatbread. Both of them are dough put in that amazing oven that bakes it quickly. I prefer the fougasse because it’s pretty, but during dining days you can get extra toppings on the flatbread without an additional charge.
Then there’s a Margherita DOC pizza. You don’t have to say the DOC. That just means that it’s made the way some Italians who obsess about such things would want it made. It means the flour, the tomatoes, the basil, the cheese all are right. It also means that this pizza is delicious. This is pizza at its simplest and it’s just fine, thank you.
For dessert, you can get Nutella flatbread, tiramisu or panna cotta. The latter comes with Amarena cherries or Nutella for no charge. The special is $30, but comes with freebies if you know what to order.
I love Nutella, but I may love the cherries more. They’re sweet and are the refined version of maraschino cherries. When you eat them, they make you think of cherries at their finest rather than something that may embalm you from the inside out.
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Venturi is offering simple, fresh food in a way a restaurant should. That’s why people drive from a long way away to try it, said Kanagy. “The food quality speaks for itself,” he said.
It does. But I’ll speak too and say that this place is good and I’m thrilled it’s in Elkhart County. It’s a special restaurant that attracts a range of customers, a range of ages. If you haven’t been there, Goshen Dining Days between now and Saturday, March 12, is a great time to fix that.