Pizza Gottardo, Piazza mercato 7, Verbania, Lago Maggiore, Italy

There is an old saying, maybe not as wise as some old sayings but true enough, that says you should never eat a Pizza anywhere north of Naples. If you live in the UK or the US the principle holds particularly true … revolting as pizzas in those countries tend to be …. but if you live in Italy I think the concept should be a little relaxed, as the advent of wood and wood fired stoves, but above all Pizzaiolos – those people that can swing a circle of dough above their heads without letting it fly away – that are prepared to travel for their art (I once heard of an Italian Pizzaiolo who went to work in Zurich and earned on average $100,000.00 a year!) are on the increase as Naples slowly disappears under  mounds of strike-induced rubbish!

One such place I discovered in Verbania, on Lago Maggiore where I am currently staying. It’s called Pizzeria Gottardo. Whilst its location in a car-park is not exactly inspiring, the fact that until late into the evening I was the only foreigner in the place proves a point. The pizzas are exceptional.

You sit at simple tables under a canopy with chattering families all around. BB the dog was allowed in (Italian restaurants are much more pet friendly than English ones!) and was immediately pounced on by not only the table next door, but half of the other people in the restaurant, as she was petted, stroked, fed copious pieces of unwanted pizza (I had deliberately not fed her this evening, knowing what it was going to be like!) and generally made a fuss off much to her delight. Italians are suckers for big brown labrador eyes!

I ordered a pizza with fresh ingredients on – I like to fool myself I am eating healthily!  Baby tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil. It came with the edges nicely singed and the base very thin and crispy – probably the definition of a good pizza is the base still crispy despite having wet ingredients on top! It came with a huge green salad on the side.

Wine was that slightly fizzy and rather weak stuff you only get in restaurants in Italy, fresh off the vines and delicious. It is also about as strong as water which means you can rink almost literally buckets of it without falling over.  It gives you time to enjoy your meal and talk at length to the neighbours. Amazingly and with a co-incidence you can only gasp at, it turned out that the people at the next table to mine were living in my old flat up the lake in Cannobio!! What are the chances of that?

Pudding was a lemon sorbet stuffed into a lemon shell, which not only looked nice but was also delicious.

A special mention is also due to the heart-breakingly pretty, friendly and slightly aloof bunch of sisters who were the waitresses here scurrying back and forth taking orders, laying tables, clearing away and still having time to dash over for a quick cuddle – unfortunately not with me, but rather with BB!  They were a delight to watch and chat to!

Price for the evening was €25 which given the wine, the entertainment and the delicious food I thought was really not bad at all!

Previous dinner posts from Peter