Pizzeria Venti To Open On Frazier Avenue

Thursday, December 20, 2007 - by Hannah Campbell

Pizzeria Venti, a franchise that imports water from Italy to make its pizza dough and sends owners to Italy for training, will open its tenth restaurant nationwide in Chattanooga on Jan. 2.

Owner Robert Cross says Pizzeria Venti is Chattanooga’s only “Authentic Sliceria,” which seems to mean slices are cut in rectangles from big rectangled pizza pies (elementary school pizza or Rome’s pizza rustica, anyone?).

Pizzeria Venti was begun in Chicago, where pizza is delicious, and five locations will open in Atlanta next year. “It’s a growing franchise,” he says.

“I love pizza. Everybody loves pizza,” says Mr. Cross. He says he chose Chattanooga “basically just to get back to my roots… and closer to family.” His brother, father and nieces live in Sweetwater. “Visiting Chattanooga I just loved the growth in (the North Chattanooga) area.”

Mr. Cross owned Subway restaurants in Atlanta for seven years and moved to Chattanooga in June to renovate the old ACT building on Frazier Avenue for Pizzeria Venti. He says the finished product is “kind-of trendy.” He is shooting for the younger crowd and described the interior as “cool” and “cozy,” with a big gas fireplace.

Mr. Cross trained in Italy for two weeks, learning how to choose produce at outdoor markets there and picking herbs and spices straight from the fields. He also learned secrets of the Tuscan crust made by Pizzeria Ventis across the U.S. and practiced hospitality by serving meals to Italian locals.

Here in Chattanooga he says he uses as many local vendors as possible. “It’s all about community and family. Italy’s all about family,” he said.

Besides pizza the menu offers Timpaninis, like calzones, stuffed with spinach & ricotta cheese or the Chicken Venti, with chicken, artichokes, mushrooms and Alfredo sauce.

Unique pastas include Gnocchi Basilico, and salads include tuna and white bean salad or field greens with apples. Also choose from traditional Italian entrees like lasagna, manicotti and ravioli. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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