Food Critic: Verona Pizza beats out its competitors :

14 October 2010 00:00 | John Marone

It’s kind of hard to get excited about pizza these days, as pizza joints are all over the world, with Kyiv being no exception.And despite its nominally Italian roots, pizza is more widely seen as fast food, often featuring lots of hard-to-digest white dough and frozen toppings, rather than healthy Mediterranean ingredients.
But on the edge of the city’s Podil district, where the cafe culture of main street Sahaydachnoho barely sheds light to the proletarian wasteland of Taras Shevchenko metro station, lies an oasis of service, affordability and damn good pizza.
Verona started out as more of a pizza delivery point, with just two or three tables and a service counter.
ut since the first day that I entered the place in late 2009, despite normal staff turnovers, the service has always been customer-oriented and friendly – a watershed in my 12 years of eating out in this city.
At the risk of creating a pun, the place isn’t cheesy. The menu is pretty basic, including salads and desserts, in addition to nice variety of pizzas that cost around Hr 60 on average.
There are up to 15 types on the menu to choose from. My personal favorite at Verona is their Greek Pizza, which features dicedblack and green olives, onion, bell pepper and generous cubes of feta cheese that topple from the crust.
The Greek, or Gretska in Ukrainian, is a vegetarian pizza, but packed full of the flavors one would normally encounter in a salad of the same name.
I remember once being told by a staff member that the owners are Greeks, and judging by some of the faces in the place, Verona has something genuinely warm, relaxed and non-commercial about it.
You can’t miss the place from the street, which is lined with Verona’s trademark fleet of red pizza delivery scooters and the pony-express looking kids who negotiateobstacles along sidewalk and street alike.
To be honest, I never ordered a pizza from Verona, but I was almost hit by one of their boys hurrying on his way to make the half-hour deadline for delivery.
Instead, I go inside – quite regularly, but not regularly enough to have cut a deal for a free advertising with the owners, if that’s what you’re thinking.
Now, following some modest refurbishing, Verona on Podil has several tables, not including the front-street terrace in summer.
The crowd is youngish but also couples and people with kids – a real contrast to the unsavory type that can be seen wolfing down a greasy shwarma (or doner kebabs) near the metro station just two blocks away.
Besides the pizza, which is made from a thin and crispy crust – not dry, and golden brown when warm – Verona offers lots of little things such as a clean, pleasant atmosphere and discounts.
If you just walk in off the street cold, it will take no more than 10 minutes to get your pizza. Or you can buy a slice from the counter display for Hr 12. The staff will also make up a half pizza for you fresh with no fuss.
This year, it also opened another venue near Lva Tolstogo metro. With U.S. based pizza chain Dominoes also recently appearing on the horizon, it’s great to have a nice choice.
Verona Pizza
71E Kostyantynivska, 
1A Lva Tolstogo, tel. 379 1000
Open daily 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.,