Serendipity; the official definition goes something like ‘The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way’, but I think of it as looking for something good, and finding something better. It’s a lovely word in itself, rolls off the tongue nicely, and has been used to describe many magical happenings in many magical places. In my recent trip to the romantic city of Milan, my serendipitous (another great word) moment was not in the sunset from Duomo terraces, or amongst the canvas awnings which line the canals, it was not a gem found in the windows along via Montenapoleone either. All of these moments were incredible, but in fact, serendipity occurred for me, in the form of…pizza.
If you have been to Milan, you will know there is a distinct lack of affordable, sit down restaurants in the centre, which is right where we were after a full day of travel and exploring the sites. The sun had gone down, it was bloody freezing and we were wandering around looking for a nice warm place to fill our bellies, without any success. A spell of hangry loomed more and more imminently over me, so for Kieran’s safety, it was time to ask for help from our old mate TripAdvisor (ever heard of it?). After scrolling past everything priced with more than one pound sign, we landed on Piz, a pizza joint just over 500 metres away from Duomo Cathedral, with great reviews, and a backpacker friendly price!
Arriving a few minutes before the 7pm opening time, we studied the menu in the window and recognised ‘margherita’ amongst all the Italian words – so they definitely had something for veggies, another thumbs up. We also managed to roughly translate a handwritten note in the window to “we are not a tourist pizzeria, try”. Already, we were raising eyebrows and nodding in satisfaction as this was clearly a message for locals who surely wouldn’t settle for less than a ‘how Mama makes it’ standard. We were among the first guests to be let in, and as soon as we crossed the threshold, the experience began.
Instantly greeted with warm smiles and a complimentary flute of prosecco each, we were whisked down stairs to the main dining area and seated in the perfect corner table for two. The walls, ceiling, tables and chairs were painted the happiest shade of yellow and decorated with bright blue and red figures, even the playful chandeliers matched the colour scheme. You instantly felt the light and pleasant ambience of the room. Maybe it was the prosecco, but everyone seemed to be smiling. Then came Julia, one of the lovely staff members working the floor, making her way effortlessly between tables handing out freshly toasted mini paninis with a cheese, tomato and rocket filling – an absolute delight, and completely free of charge. When we checked with Julia that the paninis were meat free, she said the magic words “everything on the menu is completely vegetarian”, like are you kidding?!? Piz was already way better than good and we hadn’t even ordered any food yet!
On Julia’s recommendation, we went with one margherita pizza and one garlic and tomato pizza to share. I also ordered a glass of white wine and Kieran ordered a pint of larger. The drinks arrived quickly and we were able to sip away at them and enjoy some conversation for about 10 minutes before the pizzas arrived. When the plates were put down in front of us, our jaws literally dropped (we might have been really hungry after the big day we had but…). I’m talking margherita pizza LOADED with mozzarella and juices still bubbling on the surface, whole garlic cloves almost melting into the tomato sauce on the other and fresh basil leaves arranged on top of both. Without us having to ask, the kitchen had cut each pizza in half so we had an even split of each on our plates, and delivered a pot of spicy chilli chutney to add as we liked – it’s like they read our minds. The meal itself was great, absolutely top quality pizza if ever i’ve tasted it, I really hope the locals take that sign in the window seriously because this is definitely NOT touristy pizza.
Surely after all that, with tummies filled to the brim and warm fuzzies all over, it couldn’t get any better? Well in came Julia again, offering a free shot of a digestive spirit in a handful of different flavours. Not being ones to turn down freebies, I went with lemon and Kieran went with pistachio – would you believe it actually seemed to help us feel less full? So when Marco (another lovely staff member) suggested we try the homemade tiramisu, there was no excuse really. Yet again, we were thoroughly impressed with quality of the food and wiped the plate clean between us. Although the restaurant was full, there was no pressure to leave the table in a hurry, so we took our time finishing off our drinks and revelling in the fortune of choosing such a fabulous dinner destination – serendipity indeed.
One of the other bonuses of Piz was the payment system, you pay on your way out the door, so there is no waiting around at your table awkwardly trying to catch the eye of a waiter to ask for the bill! In the end, we spent €36.00 and along with attentive, friendly staff and an overall fantastic experience from door to door, we got;
2 Flutes of prosecco
1 Large glass of wine
1 Pint of larger
2 Mini paninis
2 Giant pizzas
4 shots (yes 4, we were given another shot each when paying for the meal!)
We highly recommend you check these guys out if you get the chance. As we left, there was a crowd of people outside waiting to get themselves a table, so make sure you get in early if you don’t want to wait! For more pizza porn, check out the Piz Facebook page.
Where was the best pizza you’ve ever had? Was it outside of Italy?