A recent trip to Burlington had us searching out some pizza for a craving. This isn’t particularly challenging in Burlington, which has rather a lot of decent pizza places with good beer lists, including American Flatbread, Ken’s Pizza, Leonardo’s Pizza, and Manhattan Pizza and Pub. Yes, the fine people of Burlington do indeed like their pizza and beer. But our trip had us staying a night in the newly opened Hilton Garden Inn, and the back entrance dropped us out right in front of Pizzeria Verita. We’d known of it for a while, but it had never percolated to the top of our list. Why? Two reasons. First, it’s next to the truly wonderful Trattoria Delia, which has been known to suck us in off the street in hopes of scoring a table without a reservation (we’ve generally been successful at that). The second? The location, 156 St Paul Street, is one of Burlington’s “cursed restaurant” spots. Over the years I’ve been going to Burlington, it’s been a string of different restaurants (in my tenure, it’s ranged from Irish to Hipster heaven to Sports Bar), some good, most mediocre, none of them lingering long. So, to be honest, I was waiting to see if Pizzeria Verita lasted a while before going, and on this trip, seeing it across the street reminded me that they’ve been around since 2012, thus probably breaking the curse.
Walking in, it has the vibe and decor that before 2000 or so was pretty rare, but is now commonplace: the “wood fired pizza joint”: a large, spacious restaurant where the two features are the large wood-fired oven, and a large ornate wood bar for beverage service. Sitting down at the bar and starting off with cans of Heady Topper and Focal Banger (note to tourists visiting Vermont and trying to find the elusive Heady Topper… If you just want to try it, head to the bar. A rather large number of Burlington bars regularly stock it), we looked over the menu, and decided to check out the pizza menu. Our eyes landed on a combination that had tempted us (but been unavailable that day) earlier in the year at The Hungry Ghost in Northampton: Sausage and Rapini. So we ordered up our pizza, and settled back with our beers and a cocktail (Verita also has a splendid cocktail list).
About 15 minutes later, our pizza arrived (the sign of a good wood- or coal-fired oven place is that a good oven is over 900 degrees, and pizzas cook fast). Starting with the foundation of all good pizzas: the crust was excellent. A good crown on the edge of the pizza, and a great char underneath, all around a nice toasted and chewy crust. Add in a rather pleasant tomato sauce, some excellent local Italian sweet sausage, and some rapini that was just starting to char from the oven, and this was setting up to be a thoroughly splendid pizza… and then we had the cheese. It’s immediately obvious that Verita is making their own fresh mozzarella; our cheese was particularly creamy and had an almost nutty flavor to it.
Considering we ended up trying out Verita after they’d been around well over two years, I consider the curse of 156 St Paul finally lifted. Not just lifted, but thoroughly exorcised; Verita sports a great pizza oven, some folks that know how to run it, and then tie it all together with some nice beer and cocktails. I’ll definitely be back.