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Farinata Pizza Comes to Harbor Village

Italian chef puts a twist on traditional dishes made from scratch.

As a child growing up in the northern village of Ponte Lambro, Italy, Alex Assennato would sit at a long table and help his grandmother make pasta every Saturday afternoon.

"We made it for lunch the next day," he said, "when our whole family would eat together."

Assennato, who is half Italian (with Sicilian roots) and half Argentinian, credits these afternoons as a formative experience which led him to train as a chef in Buenos Aires (with a specialty in Italian food) and upon his return gain seven years of chef experience in Como, Italy.

Four years ago, he came to the United States, ready to work hard. "For Italian people, America is the dream," he said.

Now, Assennato is living his dream as the manager and chef of Princeton's Village Pizza, a new restaurant located in the Shoppes at Harbor Village mall.

Open for just a few weeks now, the restaurant is using this time period as a soft opening. "We'll do a grand opening in mid-June," said Joel Janoe, manager of the Shoppes at Harbor Village and the Oceano Hotel.

Assennato says that he emphasized pizza (11 different types are on the menu now) as the featured item because it allows him to use his creativity in coming up with new types of pies.

"It's like an art," he said.

Those seeking twists on traditional fare will not be disappointed at Village Pizza. Whole wheat and gluten-free crusts are available. So is farinata pizza, which has a thin layer of crust baked on top (the farinata) and is made out of garbanzo beans mixed in with flour, olive oil, some parsley, salt and black pepper. "I can make an onion version as well," Assennato says of the farinata.

The fresh roasted vegetable Ortolana pizza is recommended to be ordered farinata-style, as the nuttiness of the latter compliments the taste of the main ingredients in the former. 

Diners can also order calzones, lasagne, salad, minestrone soup and bread from the menu designed by Assennato. He says he makes all items by himself in-house.

"Pizza is in his veins, " says Janoe.

Village Pizza (open every day except for Tuesday from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. and 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. on weekends) offers home delivery between Montara and Half Moon Bay. To view a menu, click on the PDF document attached to the media box on the right.

susan June 24, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Be careful if you need to be gluten free for medical reasons. The owner does not understand cross contamination at all. There is no separate oven ,utensils or work space . It is great that he has a crust with no gluten ingredients , but the crust is NOT gluten free.
Alessandro June 24, 2011 at 06:34 AM
I`m so sorry dear susan but maybe you and to much people speak free, because the crust is REAL GLUTEN FREE YOU STAND REAL GLUTEN FREE, SECOND THE UTENSILS WORK IS DESINFECTED WITH SANITIZER SOLUTION YOU KNOW WHAT IS SANITIER REALLY??????. THIRD EVERY TIME I HAVE AN ORDER I MAKE IN DIFFERENT TABLE THE PIZZA CRUST GLUTEN FREE OK AND I CLEAN THE INGREDIENT TABLE......... I INVITE YOU TO EVEY ONE TO VISIT THE PIZZERIA AND ILL LET YOU SEE THE GLUTEN FREE FLOUR THAT IS FROM ITALY OK!!!!!!!!!! THANK
susan June 24, 2011 at 10:27 PM
okay , sounds good . I am only repeating what I was told on the phone when I called to inquire .
Jessica Sebree December 21, 2011 at 01:47 AM
Forget about gluten free, how about answering the phone during posted buisness hours? I tried to give Village pizza a chance but they could not even answer the phone!
Dave Olson December 22, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Unfortunately, as of early November, they told me that they no longer offer the gluten free crust. I'll miss it, it was pretty good for gluten free, and a good overall pizza

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