It was a sad day for Bayonne residents, past, present, and future, when The Venice closed its doors late last year. Long respected as one of the best extra-thin crust pies in the Pizza State, the news even took a cruel streak when an attempt to keep it alive under new ownership failed. Good news followed however when the Venice cook went to make pies at The Starting Point. But, alas, the original Venice location is once again alive, albeit under the new moniker of Bayonne Patio Bar & Grille.
Back home to visit Dad, it was a natural that we got the family team together to give it a try one Saturday night. Arriving on the scene at dinner time, the place looked pretty much the same. The Venice name was still on the awning, and the only sign of the new name was on the floor mat in the dining entrance.
Inside, everything looked the same except for the refurbished dining room which seemed to have a sparkle to it. Except for a cadre of regulars in the bar room, it was surprisingly empty for this late on a Saturday night.
The new menu was delivered revealing perhaps more of an upscale selection. Evidenced by the superb salads we had, I would have to say it is. The Venice’s fave mussels and thin crust pizza were there, and we went for a pair of pies: one plain and one pepper and onions. The latter choice was a throwback to a legendary Venice order where “pepperoni” was mistakenly read by the cook. This accidental concoction was so good it became a family mainstay.)
The pies arrived and it didn’t take long to learn that the famed Venice recipe was not in the building. Making a pizza about as thin as before, they tried to mimic the Venice pie. But visually, it was apparent that it lacked the classic crispy look to the crust. Taste wise, it was soggy, dull and pale, and most importantly, there was no crack to the crunch. To put it bluntly, while made from good stock and better than you’d find at some places, this was a total disappointment on this sacred pizza ground.
My brother summed it up with the words I used to caption this piece: “The Venice takes a step back.” My son, The Kid, was less kind, feeling that it was an embarrassment to local standards. I guess I couldn’t disagree with either one of them.
Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and this is certainly a sad ending to one of the state’s long-standing pizza traditions. While Bayonne Patio Bar & Grille may turn out to be a great restaurant, if you are longing for that legendary Venice thin-crust pie, you won’t find it there. Go to The Starting Point instead.
PIZZA SNOB RATING *** Better Than Dominos
Bayonne Patio Bar & Grille
31 Cottage Street
Bayonne, NJ 07002