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Malta

Reviews Venture Meridian

Best Pizza in Idaho is the best in the World?

August 14, 2016

During our trip through New York, Italy, Malta and Chicago we were in some of the best locations in the world for pizza. Being pizza lovers, we decided to do some research and sample pizza from highly rated restaurants at each of these stops. A “world pizza tour” if you will. We were definitely not disappointed, but quite surprised at the results.

The first stop was the best rated pizza joint in New York, Juliana’s, which was located just across the bridge from Manhattan in Brooklyn. This pizza set the bar high for the rest of the trip. We ordered a traditional margarita pizza and paired it with a glass of wine (Lacey) and a local beer (Mat). The crust was thin, so of course we folded it, New York style. The basil on the pizza was extremely fresh and flavorful, with just the right amount of sauce and cheese. We easily ate the entire pie.  Juliana’s blend of Italian style with New York style is delicious while the authentic feel of their restaurant beneath the Brooklyn Bridge completes the experience.

The next stop on our pizza tour was Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy. Gusta Pizza is famous for making pizzas in the shape of a heart. These pizzas were just as delicious as they were adorable. This Italian pizza had amazing fresh mozzarella piled on and thin, flaky crust. The basil didn’t taste as fresh or flavorful as Juliana’s, but something about drinking wine out of a paper cup made the entire experience feel authentic.  We were both pleasantly surprised with the quality ingredients and flavor of Gusta’s pizza and charmed by the adolescent “date night” feel of the restaurant.  Who wouldn’t want to share a heart shaped pizza with a love interest? #adorbs

The third stop on our world pizza tour was at Ir-Rokna’s Restaurant on the Mediterranean island of Malta.  Ir-Rokna’s was established in 1975 and is officially the oldest pizza joint on the island.  Trip Advisor awarded this place with a certificate of excellence so our expectations were set pretty high even before walking in.  Their wood burned pizza did not disappoint.  Similarly to Juliana’s in Brooklyn, Ir-Rokna’s pizza is a blend of NY style with Italian style.  The fresh ingredients, most noticeably being the basil, accompanied with the family recipe sauce make each bite more flavorful than the one before.  The owners and staff were fantastic to us the entire night, especially being that we arrived late and were the last patrons in the restaurant by the end of the night.  We never felt pressured to leave or do anything other than enjoy their delicious food and local wines.

Our final stop was one that we were both looking forward to the most; Gino’s East in Chicago, IL.  For 50 years, Gino’s has been serving up their legendary, deep dish, Chicago style pizza from their Superior Avenue location in the windy city.  This old school, graffiti filled, restaurant was where we visited the last day of our trip.  Being veterans of Gino’s (been there once before), we knew that two people have absolutely no chance of finishing a large pizza.  Gino’s pizza is the definition of “deep dish”.  It is about 3 inches thick and has a very dense crust that is unlike any pizza we’ve ever had.  That being said, we ordered a medium this time and still didn’t finish it.  If you’re unfamiliar with authentic Chicago style pizza, the cheese makes up the first layer above the crust and the sauce is on top of the cheese.  It looks kind of funky if you’re used to seeing a regular American style pizza.  Gino’s pizzas require over an hour to bake due to the thickness.  Their sauce is amazing and there is a lot of it on each slice.  It perfectly balances the thickness of the crust and layer of cheese to make sure each bite is juicy and full of flavor.  The original Gino’s East location is full of memorabilia from all of the celebrities that have visited this location over the years.  It makes the experience even cooler knowing that past presidents, hall of fame athletes, and world renown musicians have dined in the very spot you may be sitting in.  We love Gino’s!

After our “World Pizza Tour” wrapped up and we were back home in Idaho, we started reminiscing about all of the wonderful pizza experiences we had during the previous 15 days.  The basil of Juliana’s in Brooklyn, the heart shaped and heart warming Gusta Pizza in Florence, the family recipe pizza in Malta, and the legendary thick crust of Gino’s in Chicago.  It’s hard not to get hungry just typing that sentence.  Anyways, which one did we like best? After a lengthy discussion, we agreed that Julianna’s was our favorite.  Surprising right? Didn’t you think we would pick Gino’s East? So did I.  What was even more surprising to us after our choice was our answer to the following question; “Would you rather have Juliana’s pizza or Idaho’s own, Chicago Connection pizza?”  Without hesitating, we both answered “Chicago Connection”.  Does this mean the best pizza in Idaho (our opinion) is also the best pizza in the world?  You be the judge.

As always, please check out Venture Meridian Magazine and show them some love for supporting us by letting us have our monthly column!

Best Pizza in Idaho

Chicago Connection Pizza in Downtown Boise, ID

Best Pizza in Idaho

Best Pizza in Idaho

Gino's East, Chicago | DitchingNormal

The original Gino’s East in Chicago.

Gino's East Celebrity Wall | DitchingNormal

Gino's East Chicago Style Pizza | DitchingNormal

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana’s in Brooklyn, NY

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Ir Rokna Pizza Malta

Ir-Rokna Pizza in Malta

Ir-Rokna Pizza Malta

Travel

You Need to Visit Malta

June 29, 2016

Ever heard of Malta? Neither had we until a few months ago.  Our Barcelona buddies suggested we meet there this May.  Being that we had some reward points to burn, we booked it no questions asked.   After booking, we finally did some Google searching to discover that this tiny Mediterranean island looked amazing!  From beaches to cliff diving to ancient temples and cities; we’re going to show, and tell you a shit load of reasons for why you need to visit Malta.

If you are like we were, then you have no idea where Malta is or how to get there.  Picture the map of Italy.  You know how it looks like boot? Picture the island that “the boot” is kicking.  That’s not Malta, it’s Sicily. Right below Sicily, you’ll find Malta.  You can fly to Malta from many of the major European airports on Air Malta or AlItalia.  From many locations, a ticket on these airlines will be less than $100.  Lacey and I traveled to Malta from Rome for $70 a ticket.

What’s so cool about Malta? Literally everything, and I don’t use the word “literally” as loosely as some.  Malta and it’s neighboring islands Comino and Gozo, are responsible for some of the most amazing geographical features in the world.  Places like the Blue Lagoon, Azure Window, and St. Peter’s Pool are just a couple featured spots off the top of my head.  As if the beauty of the island weren’t enough, the history of Malta is even more incredible.  Ancient cities, megalithic temples (older than the Pyramids), and the roots of Christianity can all be found and explored here.  For all of you Game of Thrones nerds out there, Malta is also responsible for numerous breathtaking backdrops in the earlier seasons of this show.

We felt pretty overwhelmed at first while planning this trip.  There was so much to explore and there were only 4 days to do it.  We couldn’t afford to lose time relying on public transportation to trek us around.  We decided to reserve a rental car.  Renting a car was trickier in Malta because I needed an international driver’s permit and oh yeah, they drive on the other side of the street.  Yikes!

Our first day was spent cruzing around St. Julian’s Bay which was a block from our hotel, the Hilton Malta.  We would definitely recommend staying in this area as it is very close to a ton of restaurants and night life while also being a central take off point to all of the sites you’ll want to visit.

Day 2 got off to a quick start as we were touring the capital city of Valletta before noon.  We popped into St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church, took some pics of Ft. St. Elmo, and grabbed some lunch before taking off toward the city of Marsaxlokk.  Yeah, try to pronounce that…Marsaxlokk.  Just outside of this city, Lacey found St. Peter’s Pool, which ended up being a major highlight of the trip.  After a few hours of cliff jumping and swimming, we made our way back to St. Julian’s for a lot of pizza and wine. This day was so much fun!

The next day was, to this point, the best vacation day of my life.  We caught an early morning ferry to the Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino.  Words can’t describe the beauty of this place.  It’s probably easier to just check out our pics below.  The Blue Lagoon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

After the Blue Lagoon, we loaded up our rental car on a giant ferry and headed for the island of Gozo where the Azure Window is located.  This landmark is so grand and spectacular.  Unfortunately it’s rapidly eroding away so you better get over there and see it soon!  After a couple hours of hiking around and eating a late lunch, we headed out.  On the way back to the ferry we realized that there were some megalithic temples along the way, so we stopped to check ’em out.  I would recommend anyone interested in Aliens and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to read up on these temples.  There were a bunch of elongated skulls found there as well as other locations in Malta.

Our final day was relatively mellow as we spent the day at the ancient city of M’dina and then at the Golden Sands Beach.  I think we were all still a bit tired from the action packed day before.  It was nice to finish up the trip with a relaxing beach day with friends.

Malta is incredible!  I would recommend it to anyone.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Click here to see our video edit from this trip.

Click here to see how we used rewards points to book this trip for free!

why you need to visit Malta

why you need to visit Malta

why you need to visit Malta

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

 

 

 

 

Travel

GoPro Vacation Video Edit

May 28, 2016

Lacey and I recently returned from what will be our longest trip of 2016.  We visited 9 locations in 3 different countries over 15 action packed days.  While we fully intend on sharing all of the location specific details with you from our trip, we wanted to start you off with a video edit that summarizes a large portion of what we did during this travel adventure.  Plug in your headphones, turn the volume up, and enjoy our very first GoPro Vacation Video Edit!

Additional Info:

Keep in mind while watching this that Lacey and I booked this trip for next to nothing.  We saved over $10,000 by utilizing credit card rewards points to book this 2+ week adventure.  There is no way we could have afforded flights to these places, stayed in the luxurious hotels that we stayed in, and participated in all of the adventures you see in the video if we hadn’t gotten the majority of it for free.  If you love to travel, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing the very same thing.  Check out this post for the details on how we booked this specific trip with points and let us know if you have any questions.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more details and beautiful pics from this trip!

Travel

Off on our Big Trip!

May 18, 2016

Lacey and I are currently off on our biggest vacation adventure of 2016!  So far we’ve made stops in New York, Florence, and Rome.  We are currently on the beautiful island of Malta.  Tomorrow we head back to Rome for a full day before jumping on a flight headed for Chicago where we’ll spend the weekend.  While we’d love to give you all the details of our trip right now, we’re either out having too much fun or we’re too tired from having too much fun.  Believe us, we’ll give you more than enough of the details when we return next week. This may be forever known as our For now, you can keep up with what we’re getting mixed up in by checking in on our social media profiles. Links to our profiles are at the top of this page.

For those that don’t know, this is the biggest trip Lacey and I have ever booked with credit card rewards points.  We saved over $10,000 on this trip!  It’s super easy for anyone to do the same.  To see the full story on how we made this trip happen (for free-ish) check the link here.

We can’t wait to tell you about what we’ve experienced!

Azure Window Our Big Trip