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Pizzeria Verita's Dough Doesn't Lie: An Expressive Slice of Vermont

By Paul Rowe

During the early beginnings of pizza in Naples, Italy, pizza-makers sourced their ingredients very close to home, using vegetables, meats, and cheeses that were available to them. At Pizzeria Verita in Burlington, Vermont, it's important to honor this tradition of local sourcing.

"It's essential that our pizzas express the flavors of Vermont and support our farming community," says Leslie Wells, Owner of Pizzeria Verita.

Pizzas here are made in the traditional Neopolitan style. This process involves pushing out a light, thin crust, taking care to push air into the cornicione or edge, then topping the dough with just the right amount of fresh ingredients, and finally, baking the pizza in a very hot wood-fired oven. "All the flavors come together in that short baking time, resulting in a tasty balance with no dominant flavors: a unique characteristic of traditional Neopolitan pizza," says Wells.

The famous dough is made with Tipo 00 flour, and each pizza is baked for 60-90 seconds at 900 degrees in a custom-built Neopolitan pizza oven built and shipped from Naples, Italy. "At Pizzeria Verita, 'La verita e nell'impasto,' which translates to, 'The truth is in the dough' -- so our dough, first and foremost, sets us apart," says Wells. If it's the dough that sets Verita apart, it's the ingredients that uphold its commitment to local sourcing.

The tantalizing menu boasts up to two dozen unique pizzas, ranging from the classic Italian Margherita, Marinara, and Regina Margherita pies to more creative combinations such as the Mais pizza, a fire-roasted sweet corn, fresh house-made mozzarella, speck, crème fraiche, and the Salsiccia e Funghi pizza featuring house-made Vermont sausage, fresh house-made mozzarella, fire-roasted mushrooms, and grana padano.

"We were surprised at how well received the Mais pizza was, considering that it seems the least traditional," says Wells. "I probably should have known since it was in my top two pizzas I ate while travelling in Naples."

Guests feel empowered from creating their own antipasti platters from an array of house-made antipasti. From fire-roasted vegetables and Italian salumi (cured and smoked meats like prosciutto di parma and genoa salami) to fine cheeses, such as the house-made fior di latte (fresh mozzarella), guests are treated to a wide range of possible customizations.

Creative salads provide another way for guests to branch out beyond pizza, ranging from the classic Caesar salad with white anchovies to an Amalfi salad featuring arugula, Gorgonzola, and pear. Desserts include Italian classics like sorbettos, tiramisu, and traditional canollis, as well as the Pizza alla Nutella, a Nutella-filled pizza shell with caramelized sugar and chocolate drizzle.

It's not merely the food that distinguishes Pizzera Verita: the craft cocktail program shines. With a cocktail menu changing seasonally with daily classic and craft cocktail additions, Verita's inventive bar staff is allowed to fully express their passion for utilizing local ingredients. The restaurant also provides Italian-brewed craft beers alongside some of Vermont's finest beers on tap, and features an extensive Italian wine list.

We knew from the very beginning that we wanted to be a part of, and contribute to, the American craft cocktail renaissance- and we've done just that, with selections chosen from the very beginnings of the American cocktail experience right up to inventive, new cocktails that our bartenders have created," says Wells.

The bar staff has even taken it a step further: by utilizing Italian digestifs and liqueurs, they've been able to impart a decidedly Italian spin on Pizzeria Verita's craft cocktail menu.

From its inception, Verita worked to create a casual, welcoming environment for guests that would compliment the grub. Employing local artists to create light fixtures and interior wall treatments, a relaxed atmosphere was created by adding rough-hewn barn-board accents. What has evolved since has been a comfortable, yet lively and energetic atmosphere.

"On many nights, there's a special, almost reunion-like quality to the atmosphere here at Pizzeria Verità," says owner John Rao. "Folks come in, they see people they know, they chat with our friendly staff, and there's just a really good vibe in the restaurant. Plus, everybody loves good pizza, so everyone's really happy to be here!"

Burlington pizza-lovers enjoy both classic and creative pies. They crave an expression of their community in conversation with the Italian tradition. Pizzeria Verita provides this, and somehow makes it feel like home.

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About The Author

Paul Rowe is a graduate instructor of writing and master's student of Literature at...

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