Pizza may not be a traditional Venetian food, but this does not mean there are no good pizzerie in Venice! On the contrary, there are quite a few places were the pizza is really delicious and one of them is Aciugheta. Aciugheta is located in campo Ss. Filippo e Giacomo, not even five minutes from Saint Mark's square, and has been open for a very long time. In the 1950s it was a wine bar, then at the end of the 70s the current manager Gianni Bonaccorsi re-opened it, keeping the wine bar with cicheti and adding a pizzeria and restaurant. Today, in addition to Aciugheta, Gianni also opened the one Michelin star restaurant Il Ridotto (highly recommended) and a small ice-cream shop, all located in the same campo.
Vito and I live literally 3 minutes away, so we often stop for a glass of wine and a nibble (standing) in the evening. The snacks I prefer are three: the arancino di riso, a Sicilian fritter made with pea risotto and a heart of ragout and mozzarella, the pizzetta, and the tiny sandwich sliced and filled simply with a couple of anchovies left under oil, chilli and garlic. But there are also more traditional dishes, like sarde in saor, baccalà mantecato (here it is absolutely delicious, try it!), a salad with grains like spelt or barley with veg, and polpette al sugo, both vegetarian and with fish.
With regard to wine, the canteen counts many important labels, plus the offer by the glass changes often and the selection is very interesting and qualitative. The atmosphere, in general, is vibrant. Being located so in the centre, it is always crowded with people: tourists, gondoliers, people working in the nearby shops, hotels and offices, and locals meeting for a drink or a pizza. The interior has red brick walls, a very soft lighting, and the counter reminds of an American bar, oval and with high stools. It's also possible to sit outdoor, and this is what Vito and I opted for this Sunday.
I knew he was going to have pizza the moment we saw Piero, the pizzaiolo from Abruzzo. Oh my gosh if he's talented, and there's a sort of understanding between him and my husband, a shared appreciation of savoury and intense flavours and the love for chilly and garlic. Every time we go, Vito just lets him decide and awaits for the 'pizza miracle' to repeat again. Some of the best toppings I remember were friarielli (rapini), garlicky crostini and salsiccia (Italian sausage), and the marinara pizza (which traditionally has only tomato sauce, garlic and basil) with mussels.
Today, what arrived at the table was a pizza topped with prosciutto crudo, bufala mozzarella, tomatoes, black olives, crushed pistachios and basil. Just look at it, it was incredible! So, so, so good!
Piero makes a pizza that is half way between the Roman style pizza and the Neapolitan style pizza. In fact, it has a nice and crunchy crown, as it would in Naples, but is not too high in the centre, like in Rome. Basically, perfection! The dough is excellent, leavened for at least 24 hours and easy to digest. Obviously we shared...
I ordered some simple bruschette (the bread is made with the pizza dough) and a couple of polpette made with sardines, pecorino cheese, mint and cooked in a tomato sauce that was to die for. I haven't inquired about the recipe yet, but as soon as I see Gianni I must ask him. We accompanied our meal with a pint of beer and some water and enjoyed a relaxed lunch. The area of course is busy, but seated comfortably nothing could bother us.
After lunch we would have liked to have their ice-cream, but for these first days the shop opens at 2 pm. You don't know how happy I am that we finally have an ice-cream shop close to home, so useful in the evenings! Besides, theirs isn't just an ordinary ice-cream, it is a gourmet experience! It is Gianni's son, Nicolò, who follows the making of gelato and both the choice of ingredients and the procedure focus on quality. We've already had it a couple of times and the coffee flavour particularly impressed us. Vito also liked the liquorice, while I preferred the almond flavour. As already mentioned, they also own Il Ridotto, so if you are into gourmet food I strongly advise you to try that too. For lunch they offer a 35 euro menu that includes 3 cicheti and either a fish or a meat course (wine not included) and, in general, I think that the value for money of the tasting menus is very good (see menu).
Going back to our pizza, Aciugheta is a great option in the San Marco area. Just be aware that they don't take reservations, so you'll have to pass and see if there's a table. If you'll have to wait, it won't be for long, so just drink a glass of wine, eat a couple of cicheti at the counter and enjoy the buzz.
Address: Castello, Campo Ss Filippo e Giacomo 4357
Phone: +39 041 5224292