22 Aug 2014
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No Carnival for Venice

Delving into the Italian fare of Edmonds at Venice Pizza & Pasta.

No Carnival for Venice No Carnival for Venice No Carnival for Venice No Carnival for Venice No Carnival for Venice No Carnival for Venice

In Edmonds you can’t throw a rock without hitting a . There are the local chains like and (not to be confused with the stand-alone ). There are Mediterranean-melding places like . There is the new kid on the block, Il Buffone, the reincarnation of .

Given this local pizzeria bonanza, I found it strange that I hadn’t reviewed a pizza place for Edmonds Patch.com. I set out to change that this week, and settled upon for no other reason other than that it was in a part of town I hadn’t yet covered—Firdale.

Venice, Italy is an enchanting city of canals and corridors with waterside cafes that are basically just as charming as the movies make them seem. Whereas I didn’t expect Firdale to be a network of watery causeways, it was with cheerful anticipation that I imagined lingering over a steaming plate of pasta. Italian violin music would play softly as I twirled a fork in succulent strands of linguine, a well-stocked pizza pie waiting in the wings.

Well, step off the gondola. Somehow I didn’t pick up on the fact that Venice Pizza & Pasta is really a take-out/delivery joint. Yes, there are three tiny two-person tables squeezed into the postage-stamp sized dining area, but this is not the place for a leisurely dinner. The din from the soda cooler and kitchen fans quickly erased all fantasies of a peaceful meal. In short time I realized that the trio of Venetian prints on the wall was as close as the experience would bring me to The Floating City.

Armed with a coupon from the Venice website entitling to me 2 pastas and 2 salads with garlic bread for $16.99, I ordered accordingly and added a small pizza. I’d had a hankering for tiramisu but was advised that Venice’s version of the dessert is purchased elsewhere. Whereas the available cherry and strawberry-rhubarb pies were said to be house-made, . I passed on dessert.

The Venice counter attendant did double-duty as the cook, advising me that my order would be ready in approximately 15 minutes. I settled myself at a table dressed in red and white checkered cloth, glancing towards the open kitchen after writing half a page of notes.

While I may have missed the memo about Venice not being much of a sit-down place, I did not arrive late at the Party for Safe Food Handling. It was thus very much to my dismay that I watched one of the restaurant’s delivery drivers—with bare hands—grab handfuls of lettuce and pick through a bar of garnishes, stuffing them all into my to-go containers.

I don’t make the rules, the Washington State Department of Health does, and they in no uncertain terms instruct  food industry workers to wear gloves when handling food that will be served raw. That would include food like garden salad. Mind you, I’m not so naïve that I think this kind of thing never occurs at any other restaurants I frequent. But if a restaurant maintains a kitchen in plain view of its diners, they don’t have room for safe food handling lapses.

As it turned out, my estimated wait time was quite accurate, and in only slightly more than 15 minutes I was on my way with order in hand. Settling in at home, my first foray into my dinner a la Venice involved the cannelloni-manicotti ($8.50). Simply gazing upon the poor little pasta tubes mired in greasy sauce made me profoundly sad. I so wished that someone had cared more for these cannelloni than to flatten them with a blanket of broiled cheese. The zest from the sausage in the filling wasn’t enough to triumph over the bland ricotta and overall presentation.

Also faring poorly was the Spaghetti Greco ($9.50), a mountain of oily pasta that left my lips slick with just one forkful. Although it seemed that the feta, sun-dried tomato and kalamata olive combo should be a formidable flavor force, the ingredients were completely disjointed from one another as they slid around the slippery strands. The tomatoes didn’t do the dish any favors with their too-large cut and distinct chewiness.

Scoring an average grade--perhaps buoyed by a modicum of sympathy--was my pizza. I had the Venice Supreme Special (starting at $11.55) featuring Canadian bacon, pepperoni, sausage, black olives, mushrooms and tomatoes and a thick layer of cheese. The base was deep though not a pan pizza. It was really an unusual hybrid of thin doughy crust with high sides. All the required ingredients were present as was a well-seasoned sauce.

Unfortunately in the case of Venice Pizza & Pasta, the dreamy gondola ride I’d sought turned into a more treacherous expedition. Edmonds has many canals, however, and I look forward to further exploration of the community’s Italian dining scene.

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