I am delighted to share with you an insight into one of my favourite restaurants in Vienna, Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario, which is located at Arnsteingasse 30 A-1150, just off the famous and popular Mariahilfer Straße. I absolutely have to recommend that you get yourself down there when you’re in this historical, artistic and quite frankly magical city that is filled with so much love and happiness. Vienna is the home of the incredible symbolist painter, Gustav Klimt who created one of the most noteworthy paintings in the world, “The Kiss” which depicts love in its most natural form and the Saini family exude this love for each other and has together created the Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario for locals and tourists to enjoy.
A family run business for over 30 years
As a true foodie, I have dined in some pretty fantastic establishments including in London, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Geneva, Luxembourg, Berlin, Bucharest, Prague and Salzburg. However, my eyes are always widely opened and my heart strings tugged when I learn that a restaurant is that of a close-knit family that want to offer something special to the world through their love for each other and for food. So, when I learnt that Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario is a popular run family business that was established over 30 years ago in Vienna and offers freshly cooked Italian dishes, I knew I had to find out more.
Over 30 years ago, the two owners of what is now Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario, left Punjab in India and decided to take a chance to share their love of food in Europe. They took a risk and moved to Vienna, which is especially known for its coffee house culture, which both the owners liked as it promotes resting and relaxation (not something though that they have been able to do themselves in many years). What they especially liked about the coffee house culture was that it creates the idea of one stopping from their busy life and being mindful for a moment; stopping to drink and eat. Mindfulness is a concept that they became very familiar with in India due to the emphasis and importance of meditation in this country.
The story behind the Saini's decision
The owners decided that a coffee house nevertheless, was not what would allow them to showcase their skills best and decided to embrace their love for using simple ingredients to create meals that are hearty and full of flavour instead. They had to make the decision as to whether to offer Indian or Italian cuisine, both which actually use key ingredients to create filling and tasty meals and much to the surprise of others, they decided to take another risk and create a restaurant that was not as close to home and created an Italian eatery. Whilst Chef Saini had lived in Italy for 3 years and worked in an Italian restaurant, he and his hostess wife had been cooking Indian food all their life. This surprising decision of opening an Italian restaurant, however, has paid off tremendously because the pizzeria has become one of the most popular places to have a drink, grab a quick bite, have a three course meal and host a party in Vienna.
This is primarily because of the fact that the freshest of ingredients are used and the experience that people have is very personal with the owners, who are working very hard every day. Taking a break in 30 years is not something that the Saini super duo are familiar with and have opened up early and closed late everyday because they have wanted to offer an eatery that is reasonably priced in such a prime location and have also wanted to support the rest of their family including their 4 children.
A pizzeria where all generations support each other
The children in the Saini family, which consists of 2 adult daughters and 2 adult sons, have worked in the restaurant over the years and always come back to help run it during events. Whilst they work in other professions, such as in the medical and educational sectors, the children return to help their parents because of their culture which embraces support and care for each other and a united front, especially in the kitchen. This is also clearly where there is an overlap in Indian and Italian culture. Both of these cultures are about bonds, relationship and passion for food and the entire family of Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario show this in abundance.
I am sure that you will see this when you visit and will feel the welcoming and warm energy from the whole family. One thing that you will notice is that they will all be smiling, even when one would not think that they are being watched. I spotted the owners smiling whilst pouring drinks and making pizzas and had to take a few snaps too. It is in these moments that as a guest and diner, you feel truly happy to be there because you can tell that the people that are working there and making your meal want to be there. It is a joy for them to provide you with some tasty food and that makes you in turn more eager and excited to anticipate your selected item from the menu!
A delightful eatery that can accommodate 100 people
Before, I start telling you about the number of tasty items on the menu, I want to share with you the dinning areas within Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario. Whilst it may look small from the outside, it has a variety of different seating areas within the restaurant and in the terrace area. The terrace area is partly covered to give guests some shade during the warm seasons and is a nice contrast to sitting indoors if you want some fresh air. The maximum capacity for Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario is 100 people and it is known to be a lovely venue to host special events.
This is because by the restaurant being run as a family business, its business is personal and close to its heart and this means that it takes all personal events and celebrations seriously! If you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or wedding, it can create a tailor-made package for you that would suit your budget and needs. It’s the type of venue that doesn’t simply dish out a figure and some meals for you and your guests as it really cares about making your special event something memorable and something that you will keep not only in your mind but in your heart too. After all, this restaurant has been created and run successfully because of love and that in the city where Gustav Klimt’s, “The Kiss” has made home.
Watch the chef in action as he prepares your pizza to order
Drumroll, please… I now introduce to you the tasty dishes available. Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario has an extensive pizza menu that clearly shares my love for cheese. You may fancy opting for the classic pizza margherita (5.50 EUR/6 USD) or perhaps the pizza quattro formaggi, which has four types of cheese (6.90 EUR/8 USD) or alternatively the pizza spinaci, which has mozzarella cheese and sheep’s cheese with additional toppings (6.50 EUR/7 USD). I would have to recommend the pizza Siena which consists of mozzarella, spinach, broccoli, peppers and olives (7.50 EUR/9 USD).
I especially liked the fact that I could see my pizza being made right in front of my eyes by Chef Saini who prepared everything from the base of my pizza, to chopping all the ingredients, seasoning the pizza and placing it in the pizza oven. My pizza, and I’m sure yours will too, had a crispy base and equally portioned toppings which sat comfortably on the crispy base and added to creating another texture and enhancing the overall pizza. I was pleasantly surprised and have to say that this Indian family have not only got comfortable in offering Italian cuisine, but did it as good as an Italian would! You can tell that Chef Saini picked up some great skills and experience during his time in Italy. I also think this has to tie into the fact that Indian and Italian food are prepared and created in the same way: simple ingredients, simple cooking techniques, seasonal flavours and of course and most importantly, love.
Combining cultures and connecting food to connect people
Combining cultures and making food to connect people is the motto of Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario and in my view, it certainly achieves this objective. The Saini family shows that dreams and goals are best released when working together and I really like the fact that they have a really homely feel to their restaurant and it’s a place where you can relax without feeling like tables need to be turned quickly. There is an atmosphere that once you’re in, you’re not going to be ushered out the moment you’ve finished your meal but rather you’re welcome to stay and rest for as long as you need, irrespective of the busyness of the pizzeria.
If you’re living in or visiting Vienna, I must urge you to visit Pizzeria Vesuvio da Mario. It is open from 11:00 am to 3.00 pm for lunch and then re-opens at 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm every day of the week, so you have no excuse not to stop by at your convenience! If you would like to make a booking please call one of the following numbers: 01 / 892 38 71 or 0699 / 10753247. Please note that the pizzeria also offers take-away and delivery as an option.
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