New from restaurateur Michel Arnette and chef Matt Swickerath, Vero Pizzeria is situated between sister restaurants Haven and Valenza, in the heart of the bustling Brookhaven mixed-use residential, shopping and dining district on Dresden Drive.
Certainly the most easy-going of Arnette’s Word of Mouth Restaurants, the hybrid fast-casual experience begins with the usual queue-up to the order counter. But it continues in more hospitable fashion, with a hand-off to a server, who guides you to your table and can deliver extra apps or another bottle of wine, depending on your whim.
Wood is the main element of the narrow, rustic-meets-modern space, which centers on a temperature-controlled, glass-enclosed “dough room” and a custom-made Acunto pizza oven imported from Italy. Fired to high temperatures with beech and oak, it bakes pies in about two minutes, as its glow illuminates the theatrics of the busy exhibition kitchen and pizza bar.
Arnette said the inspiration for Vero came during a family vacation in the Campania region of Italy, where he quickly fell in love with Napoletana-style pizza.
“It was the history behind it, the fact that the dough is the critical component, and the way the pizza oven is so important,” Arnette said. “The design and layout of this restaurant, and its ambiance, is all about showcasing the dough-and-pizza-making. And, of course, the star of the show is the oven.”
The menu features eight pizzas, which range from a classic Margherita ($13) to custom pies topped with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Right now, there’s the likes of Sapelo Island clams, oregano and Calabrian chili ($15), farm egg, guanciale, pecorino and black pepper ($16), and tomato, ‘nduja and smoked provolone ($17).
“Basically, we’re adding regional toppings to Neapolitan pizza,” Swickerath said. “We’re cooking like we do at Haven and Valenza, with our farmers coming in the back door with ingredients.
“The Margherita is the only real Neapolitan pizza. The biggest challenge is mastering that dough. And getting that big puffy, crusty, chewy pizza with char is what’s important to us. We’re looking for flavor there.”
Among antipasti, several dishes come out of the oven, too, including roasted winter vegetables ($6), wood-roasted sausage with pickled peppers and corona beans ($7) and beef cheek ragu with mascarpone polenta ($7).
“I thought it would be interesting to have the whole menu revolve around that oven, because it is pretty special,” Swickerath said. “But we still want to be farm-driven, and chef-driven, and cook what we like to eat.”
The drinks menu matches the brevity and simplicity of the food menu, with a selection of soft drinks, beer on draft or in the bottle, and a concise wine list with offerings by the bottle or in 6- or 8-ounce pours.
Here’s a look at some of the dishes you’ll find at find at Vero.