Focusing on the cuisine of Venice and northern Italy, Veneto Trattoria has found a loyal following who proclaim the dining experience to be exceptional. Well, I agree. Flavors can be seductively subtle, when so designed by the Venetian chef, or bold and bright when warranted. The staff is enthusiastic and friendly, delivering professional (not stuffy) service, and the husband and wife proprietors are present, greeting and seating guests and ensuring all goes well.
The scene: Golden tones and wooden accents, along with Venetian masks, artwork and other Italian ornaments provided by the proprietors give a personable and welcoming feel. Table and banquette seating options are offered at wooden tables, simply set with utensils, stemmed glassware, linen napkins and candles. An overhead, built-in wine rack, amply supplied with many varieties, is an attractive display. When the weather (and temperature) permits park yourself on the patio, shaded by teal umbrellas.
The menu: Look for a few Italian favorites – lasagna, spaghetti with clams and veal scaloppini – among a mix of intriguing dishes such as Venetian-style cod with grilled polenta and a house-smoked pork chop with apple cider. Starred menu items indicate the dishes typically found in Venetian region.
The damage: Lunch time eats are $4.25 to $13.50. Dinner appetizers $4.95 to $8.50, entrees are $11.75 to $21.75.
The recommendation: Veneto is not your everyday Italian eatery. The notion is confirmed further by the well-prepared food. Zuppa del giorno (soup of the day) was minestrone and deliciously affirmed the kitchen’s commitment to flavor. The broth was rich, soothing and loaded with veggies that were not rendered to mush from too many hours of cooking.
The pre-meal plate of perfectly cooked calamari, is spooned with a wonderfully garlic-charged, thickish tomato broth, jeweled with tender, bright green peas and chopped tomatoes. Calamari (fancy for squid) is notably tricky to cook. Too long in the pot and the rings resemble rubber bands.
Another Italian dish that can be disastrous is gnocchi, dumplings made from potatoes and flour. Veneto dishes flawlessly fashioned gnocchi, typically wrapped in a Gorgonzola cheese coating. The chef’s Bolognese pairing, however, is more to my liking. The rich, meat sauce is patiently prepared and features shredded, flavorful beef instead of the ground variety. It’s yet another demonstration of the kitchen’s level of skill. And if not into gnocchi for some reason, get the superb sauce tossed with fettuccine.
The luganega con verzette e polenta (sausage with polenta) is one of many Venetian dishes on the menu. It’s superb — if you’re a sausage sort of person. The two plump sausages are marvelous, crafted from a ground pork mixture that has been cleverly jazzed
with herbs and a modicum of garlic. Accompanying squares of polenta add another texture and admirable flavor note. The dish also comes with braised cabbage. But it’s not the soggy stuff that’s usually heaped on top of corned beef. The cabbage has flavor, cooked with still more garlic, and crunch.
Though several sweets are offered at meal’s end, I’m partial to the dreamy semifreddo con frutta secca, an ethereal frozen (actual translation is half-frozen) concoction of sweetened meringue and whipped cream. A thick, rich and creamy slice is set in spoonfuls of raspberry sauce, drizzled with chocolate sauce and adorned with sugared walnuts, raisins, golden raisins and diced dried apricot.