Friday, July 9, 2010

Venice by Way of New York by Way of Kannapolis

I may be living on a shoestring, but that doesn't mean that I don't want to treat myself periodically to a meal made by someone other than me.  Especially if it's inexpensive.  It was this desire that led me to Venice New York Style Pizza and Italian Cuisine.  Not only is Venice located very near my favorite wig store (no, I don't wear a wig.  Yet.), but they have signs advertising their daily lunch specials for $5.95.  That's hard to beat.

On our first visit, LA and I were initially the only customers, but more people came in while we were there.  We both immediately took to the decor, with LA saying that he felt like he was dining on a train due to the unique booths.  We took forever to order, mainly because we were having too much of a laugh over their menu.  The menu items weren't the issue.  The spelling and grammar were.  As a pizza topping, you have the option of getting "green papers" or "banana papers".  The Buffalo shrimp come with a side of "Ranch Dre".  The "Chicken Rap" includes "chider" cheese.  Many of the pasta dishes are available "backed", such as Backed Cheese Ravioli.  You can even get Spaghetti Wits Meatballs.  Our personal favorite was the "Child Lasagna".  I believe they mean it is a child's portion of lasagna, but, without an accompanying description, you really are left with just an assumption.  The server must be used to people's reaction to the menu, because she seemed totally unphased by it.  When LA asked for his stromboli with banana papers, she said that it was the printer's fault and that they'd be getting new menus.  She even provided us with takeout menus, so we could enjoy the typos in the comfort of our own homes.

Enough about our spelling snobbery.  LA ordered a small pepperoni stromboli.  What arrived was almost the size of his arm.  I can't even imagine what the large must look like.  The stromboli was pretty standard, with a side of marinara.  LA raved about the marinara.  I ordered broccoli chicken alfredo, which, surprisingly, was spelled correctly on the menu.  The fettucine arrived in a delicious cream sauce that was a little lighter on broccoli than I would have preferred.  As promised, it was topped with grilled chicken.  I couldn't make out the seasoning used on the chicken, but it was absolutely delicious.  And it was grilled.  Menus often say grilled, but the chicken is often either parcooked and put on the grill for 30 seconds, or it's cooked by another method altogether.  While LA thought that the cream sauce was too thin, I thought it was perfect.  It wasn't overly heavy, which I find is often the case with restaurant alfredo sauce.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the chef actually knew what he was doing.  Go figure.  The pastas come with a side of garlic bread.  In this case, it was a chunk of Italian bread, sliced in half, slathered with garlic butter and oregano and baked.  I ate it all.

On our next visit, a few customers were already there.  We began with the homemade potato chips with a side of ranch dressing.  Maybe I'm too cynical, but I was more than a little surprised when homemade potato chips arrived.  Very thinly sliced, skin-on Russet potatoes, fried until crisp.  Some weren't as crisp as others.  Just another way to tell that they were homemade.  It's easy to forget just how good homemade potato chips are.  I know I should stay away from the fried foods, but it's hard to do when they're that good.  I would recommend the potato chips to anyone going to Venice.

LA ordered a personal cheese pizza from the Express Lunch menu.  A larger-than-expected thin-crust cheese pizza was brought out on a pedestal (literally).  When I asked LA how it was, he told me again how much he loves their marinara.  That was far more descriptive than the "Good" that I normally get out of him.  My side salad came first.  Lettuce, tomato, carrots, and green olives with a side of not-homemade blue cheese dressing (despite what the menu says about homemade dressings).  The side salad also comes with onions and green peppers, but I opted out of those.  The only thing I really have to say about the salad is that it came too soon after the potato chips, so it just had to sit there on the table and watch me eat the chips.  After the salad came my lasagna.  The menu indicates that the lasagna is comprised of layers of pasta, ground beef (not child), and cheeses, topped with a homemade sauce.  My expectations being low, I was prepared for frozen lasagna with some fresh sauce poured over it before heating it.  (I worked in one establishment where the homemade lasagna was just that--frozen Stouffer's lasagna, topped with our own sauce.)  Again, I was happily surprised.  The whole thing was homemade.  The whole thing was huge (I took more than half home with me).  And the whole thing was delicious.  It also tasted just as good the next day, when I reheated it.  LA also took half of his pizza home with him, although he later ate it in the car, having been reheated in the heat of the car.  Mmm, car pizza.

After two visits, LA and I both had the same impressions of Venice:  good-sized portions for the price, all the important items are homemade (salad dressings notwithstanding), and everything we've had has been very good.  We were highly impressed, moreso than expected, and we plan to make this one of our regular joints.  We aren't, however, looking forward to the newly-printed menus coming soon.  Part of the charm of Venice is the ability to laugh at the "printer's" mistake.  I'll just have to keep my takeout menu to remind me.

Venice New York Style Pizza and Italian Restaurant is located at 1121 S. Cannon Blvd. in Kannapolis.

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