Goodbye to junk food in Venice! Hello Organic Pizza!
Goodbye to junk food in Venice!
Vegan organic pizza in Venice.
Those who want to eat well, but also organic or vegan, soon realize, however, that there are very few restaurants boasting an entirely organic menu.
But now, even for those who choose the path of veganism or simply to eat only healthy foods, it has become possible to have good and tasty snacks, like pizza, walking along the streets of Venice.
The good of Pizza
From the nutritional point of view the pizza is in itself a complete food.
It is the queen of the famous Mediterranean diet and an all Neapolitan invention.
It is said that the classic Pizza Margherita takes its name from the well-loved Queen Margherita who, along with her husband, King Umberto I, was visiting Naples in 1889. It seems that the ingredients recalled the colors of the Italian flag: red for the tomatoes, white for the mozzarella and green for basil.
The pizza is, as is well known, one of the symbols of Italian cuisine, but, how many times, after having eaten a whole one or even have only tasted a slice, we find it hard to digest it and regret bitterly to have indulged in such a delight?
This is because, by now, most of the pizzerias pay little attention to the quality and origin of their products, worrying a lot more about keeping costs low. And so they offer a lot of new combinations of flavors, but churn out pizzas prepared with ultra refined flours, which are not very healthy, garnished with tomato sauces that probably are not even Italian!
But in Venice there is finally a place where the pizza does not taste only good, but is good for you too: Pizza Bella Brava in Strada Nova.
Vegan organic pizza in Venice
On a sunny day of February, I had the pleasure, thanks to 2night, to taste Bella e Brava pizzas and had a chat with Davide De Santi, one of the leading minds of this project, aimed at bringing a healthy and completely organic Italian pizza worldwide. Note that, although there are many international chains that sell pizza in every corner of the globe, there is not a single fully Italian one!
The first thing that struck me, when I walked into Bella and Brava, is how the ambience is very innovative, modern, clean and bright.
There are a few tables to sit at, that’s true, but it is a new type of take-away and considering that we are in Venice, where space is always tight, I’m not surprised.
Davide and the rest of his staff, who comes all from Venice or from the province of Venice, made me feel immediately very welcome.
Before sampling the various pizzas, I was there for that after all, we had a long talk in order to understand the philosophy behind this new chain, which opened its first restaurant in Venice in July of 2016 and which is planning to open stores in all major international cities such as Hong Kong, London, New York etc.
The idea is to customize each premise with a reference to an architectural or cultural symbol of the city in which the store is present.
For example, for the Venice one, located a few steps from Ca’ D’Oro, the company got inspired by the drawing of the mosaic in the atrium of Ca’ d’Oro and to dedicate a pizza to the city, the Pizza Venexiana, preparing it with rocket and crab meat, traditionally fished in Laguna, and season it with green pepper and oil flavored with lemon.
The first thing that David tells me is the basic concept of Bella and Brava:
“We chose to innovate one of the best known products of traditional Italian food – Pizza – respecting the natural leavening times, choosing only 100% Italian organic products.
We chose also to use soy for some pizza slices, instead of mozzarella, to provide a balanced Pizza from the nutritional point of view, so that it can be a complete meal for those who – in addition to taste – take care of their diet. Vegan and vegetarian are not just fads, but a new and healthy lifestyle that some people may or may not like. We believe in it and we offer an alternative food for those who must, or want to, exclude from their diet all animal products. “
The base of their pizza is hand made with spelt flour, 100% organic, and is leavened for 24 hours, using the long rising method, which makes it a lot more digestible pizza. After being kneaded by hand, it is frozen, thanks to a blast chiller, to maintain the nutritional properties.
The restaurant wants to be a response to the growing number of fast food outlets that is proliferating, not only in Venice, but also throughout Italy. Being able to offer a quick but healthy snack is their goal, so using already prepared bases speeds up the preparation of pizza.
Subsequently, on-site, the staff adds the different ingredients, all 100% organic, which come only from Venetian and Italian farmers and producers. The sauce is prepared daily by the staff; the vegetables come from Rialto.
Even the size, that is a little smaller compared to the classic pizza we are used to eating, have been conceived and designed to provide a complete, balanced meal from a nutritional point of view, so that it can be healthy, filling and quick to eat.
The pizzas, that you will find on the menu, are the Marinara (lots of tomato sauce, oregano and garlic), the classic Margherita (with buffalo mozzarella), the Vegetariana, the Capricciosa, the Tonno e Cipolle (with Tropea onions) and the pizza dedicated to Venice, La Venexiana.
The Pizza Margherita is the only one where there is, as an ingredient, the buffalo mozzarella, unlike the other pizzas where, instead, they use soy slices, ideal for those on a diet, or for those who follow a vegan diet and who often find it difficult to eat a take-away pizza, perfect for their eating requirements.
The pizza is served after about five minutes from the order, already sliced, in convenient cartons where it is also indicated with a label, the type of pizza you ordered.
I must admit that the base, with spelt flour, gives a different taste to the pizza, but nice and yummy. I did try them all – easy, a slice of pizza, not 6 pizzas! – but I did not have any feeling of heaviness or excessive thirst, after eating them.
My favorites were definitely the Capricciosa, the Tonno e Cipolle and the Venexiana and I must admit that, although I’m not personally a fan of soy products, the pizzas are very good!
I found also very interesting that the organic philosophy did not stop to the products used for the pizza, but also to the use of completely sustainable material for cups, cartons and cutlery.
The Pizza cardboard is produced from the excess algae from the Venice lagoon and is 100% biodegradable.
Also inside the store there is a well evident corner dedicated to recycling and a fountain with ionized water for free – you can even buy a stainless steel bottle to be filled with water and to be reused around Venice, filling it from the various fountains in the city.
And, instead of the usual soft drinks, full of sugar and preservatives, Bella Brava has chosen to only offer organic beverages, most notably their special beer 100% Italian, a agricultural beer, not just craft, which comes from the Verona area. The company uses a small manufacturer that produces all the raw material on site, not like craft beer producers, who can purchase malt from all sources.
And for non-alcoholic drinks, there are only organic drinks, with natural products and no added sugar, like the Ginger or the Lemonade by Whole Earth, which produces a range of soft drinks sweetened with agave syrup, no colorants, preservatives or chemical aroma. They are produced with pure spring water, naturally sparkling.
Personally, I would add a couple of pizzas with mozzarella instead of soy, but I know that both Davide and his staff are very attentive to the comments and criticisms by their customers, so maybe the menu will be a little more varied over time.
Anyway, in addition to the delicious pizzas and healthy drinks, what makes this place special is the staff, who is very friendly and knowledgeable.
If this is the kind of take-away that the future offers, they are welcome!
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