1751 E. Main St., Ventura
Months ago, I noticed that the one-time Palermo Italian Restaurant was being transformed into a new business called Native Pizza. “Real Food” its slogan said on the awning.
I was curious and began stalking the place, waiting for it to open. On July 31, it finally did. I had heard this could be the best and freshest place to have a pizza in town and boy, it couldn’t be truer. General manager and Ventura native Laura Fullilove told me that the restaurant gets ingredients from farms within a 30-mile radius.
You know you’re at the right place when you see the “Pizzaria” words painted on the side of the building. With Midtown Ventura becoming livelier in an agricultural rich area, Fullilove said there was a need for a pizza restaurant. There is the option of eating inside with an intimate space or on the back patio with its branded umbrellas, tables and light strings. There’s even a cute windpump on top of the restaurant.
I dragged along my two girlfriends and we each ordered a different 10-inch pizza to enjoy inside on a long table. Fullilove told me that the flavors are always rotating depending on what the farms are producing. Currently, there are seven Native Creations (10-,12- and 16-inch) and one Seasonal Special.
My friend loves spice on her pizza, so she ordered the El Picante ($12) with pomodoro, mozzarella, applewood bacon, pineapple and jalapeño while my other friend ordered The Fennel Word ($12) with pomodoro, mozzarella, grana, roasted fennel, roasted garlic, fennel sausage and fennel pollen. That’s a lot of fennel!
As for me, I am a mushroom lover, so I got the Mad Hatter ($12), with mozzarella, Parmigiano, shiitake, oyster and cremini mushrooms, rosemary and olive oil.
Back in the kitchen, all of the pizzas are made with a mix of organic flour blends and cooked in a Marsal pizza oven lined with brick. The cooked result? An East Coast-style-like pizza with thin, crispy crust. You can even order the crust gluten-free for $5 extra (but only on a 12-inch size).
First up, the El Picante. The tomato sauce was very light while the main focus was the toppings. The pineapple, jalapeño and bacon made the perfect blend of sweet and savory and everything I could ever hope for in a pizza.
Next up was The Fennel Word. I really liked that the roasted garlic was not too overpowering and that the sausage was not too salty. This was also the first time I ever had fennel pollen, which tasted slightly like licorice to me. It was definitely the most unique pizza I have had in a long time.
Finally, my Mad Hatter. I have never indulged in so many mushrooms on a pizza in my life! I was in heaven. The olive oil tasted very buttery and mixed with the Parmigiano cheese and rosemary … mmm MMM!
We also ordered a Native Seasonal Salad ($14) with fresh mint, local spring mix, Easter radishes, compressed heirloom watermelon, feta cheese, red wine vinaigrette and balsamic reduction. Very fancy! Not only was the presentation colorful but it tasted incredibly fresh. This was the first time I have ever had a yellow watermelon and it tasted just as good as the red one.
As for drinks, Fullilove said that they hope to have the liquor license soon to serve beer and wine. In the meantime, you can enjoy bottled soda, fresh brewed iced tea, homemade lemonade, San Pellegrino, Acqua Panna, and Groundwork Coffee and tea. We tried the Happy Gilmore ($3.50) made with lemonade and Hibiscus Tea in a mason jar topped with a lemon wedge. Very refreshing and not too sweet; that’s my kind of drink.
Native Pizza also serves Native Pan’inos with one of the most popular being The Godmother ($10) with fresh mozzarella, locally sourced tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic reduction. You can even get a slice of pizza starting at $4 from noon to 4 p.m. or homemade cookies ($2) for dessert.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. While you’re there, don’t forget to take a photo with the “Pizzaria” wall.
Kateri Wozny is a foodie who loves savoring the latest bites around the 805. Check out her Instagram page @kitkatwozny.