Out of all the delectable breads, cookies, tiramisus and cannoli that enticed me as I navigated the labyrinthine streets of Venice, one dessert stood above the rest — the Torta Veneziana al Pistacchio from Pitteri Giovanni.
I first heard rumors of this cake from a friend who studied abroad in Italy and insisted that such a wonder could not be recreated in the U.S. (she also couldn’t find a good recipe online). As I made my way down Calle Grande Nuove, I was determined not to be distracted by the gelaterias (shops selling gelato), bakeries and cafes that lined the busy street.
Once at Pitteri Giovanni, I had to avert my gaze from the bakery’s almond cakes, lemon tarts and orange cookies dipped in chocolate. I was steadfast, as I ordered an espresso and my long-awaited pistachio cake, which the shopkeeper weighed and then slid into a waxed paper bag.
If you’re a lover of marzipan or anything sweet and delicious — I’m asking if you have a soul — then this torte is what’s been missing from your life. It’s fragrant, dense and moist, filled with pistachio nuts and candied fruit, and decorated with a healthy (figuratively speaking) heaping of powdered sugar — and it’s as green as the water in Venice’s canals.
A fellow tourist told me the cake keeps well on the second and even third day, so I thanked him and bought a second slice, which I promptly ate on the way back to my hostel.