Question: I had a dream last night. A dream that I was eating delicious,
delicious chocolate pizza. Then I woke up. Speak to me, Mr. Gold. Tell me that
it wasn’t just a dream.

—Belle, Altadena

Answer: Chocolate pizza, like Eldorado, is a quest that has obsessed
humankind for hundreds of years, or at least since the days of conquest. (Rumors
that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in search of chocolate pizza
are unfounded. Even if Columbus had known about chocolate before he left Spain,
as a proud son of Genoa, he would, of course, have been searching for chocolate
focaccia instead.) Early attempts at chocolate pizza reportedly resulted in
soggy crusts, pools of molten chocolate that spontaneously burst into flame,
and ungodly messes on the oven floor. Chocolate does not respond well to extremely
high heat.

But Café Veneto, the casual sister restaurant of the excellent Locanda Veneta
next door, seems to have mastered the ancient difficulties, and the chocolate-hazelnut
pizza, essentially a lightly caramelized pizza crust split, stuffed with Nutella
and sprinkled with powdered sugar, is supreme in its category — beautifully
crunchy, not too sweet, and oozing what I believe cereal commercials call “chocolatey
goodness.” The panini are pretty good too, especially the one that manages to
compress an entire insalata caprese into the space of a toasted sandwich.
Café Veneto, 8636 W. Third St., Los Angeles, (310) 273-3605.

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