Ristorante offers divine Italian cuisine
Villa Venezia Ristorante Italiano
124 Bank Ave.
Open every day but Monday.
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dinner: Tuesday-Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m.
Operatic arias greeted us as we pulled into the small parking lot. We saw a few couples coming from across the street, obviously regulars who knew about the extra parking.
Villa Venezia has been owned and operated by Oscar Fistarol since August 1999, and he has done a beautiful job of restoring and decorating this utterly charming Victorian. The warm, butter-yellow walls, 12-foot-high burl wood pocketed doors, beautiful hardwood floors and tastefully placed wall sconces enhance the romantic and relaxing setting.
It is exactly the kind of mood that one wants to be in for a luscious dining experience. We have been to Villa Venezia several times for lunch, but not yet for dinner, and tonight was our night. We knew that we would be ordering and eating a lot of food, so we invited Fran’s mom and our neighbors to participate in the feast. Oscar and his friendly staff waited on us hand and foot.
The feast began with the arrival of their bread baskets, filled with their delicious warm bread (thankfully not the usual sourdough) and a choice of olive oil with balsamic vinegar or their unique homemade dip of blended tomatoes, olive oil, bread and herbs. Instead of water, they serve a sparkling water with orange slices and leave the pitcher for you to help yourself. That scored big points with all of us.
For our appetizers, we sampled the bruschetta and garlic toast topped with chopped tomatoes, basil and herbs; chipolata with slices of roasted eggplant topped with caramelized onions, capers and feta cheese; and calamari sauteed with chardonnay, tomatoes, capers and garlic.
The calamari was very tender and the best we’ve ever had. Next we tried the house specialty, Villa Venezia with roasted eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, and finished with the Pere chianti, braised pears topped with walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese. We ordered both their Caesar and house salads, as well. The salads were served chilled and the dressings were very enticing.
For our pasta entrees, we ordered the lasagna (thick with many layers and very good), a lobster and ricotta stuffed ravioli in a lobster bisque with shrimp (fabulous), and linguine di mare with prawns, clams, mussels, calamari and bay scallops in a chardonnay, tomato and garlic sauce that was excellent.
Our other entrees included grilled swordfish served with light virgin olive oil, arugula and lemon dressing (every bite melted in your mouth – not dry or “steaky” at all), and chicken florentina, boneless, skinless breasts filled with spinach and mozzarella cheese and sauteed with lemon, butter and capers.
For dessert (amazing we still had room) we were presented with the grand finale: semifreddo (chocolate and espresso loaf with whiskey sauce), gelato classico (vanilla ice cream with hot raspberries), budino di mele (homemade apple bread with whiskey sauce) and panna cotta (Italian-style cream caramel) that was very addicting. An excellent port wine was the perfect ending to an unbelievable meal.
All of the menu items are reasonably priced, and we were pleased to see a children’s menu, also very reasonably priced.
Steve and Fran Lantz of Grass Valley love to eat out. Contact them c/o The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.
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