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07 Jul, Tuesday
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VENETO Ristorante Italiano: the Easiest Way to have an Evening in Italy

Salt Lake City—When friends would ask Verona, Italy, native Marco Stevanoni and his wife, Amy, where their favorite place in town for Italian food was, their answer was easy: their own home. Now, the Stevanonis have opened their doors to treat others to truly authentic northern Italian cuisine with VENETO Ristorante Italiano.

Located in the small house on 370 E. 900 South that was long occupied by Forage, VENETO Ristorante has made the space all its own. The décor is full of beautifully mismatched European antique furniture, such as a large Italian settee and a collection of different chairs at each table, giving a feeling of an at-home gathering. A vintage Italian illustrated poster from the 1950s hangs on the wall—one of only perhaps 200 still in existence today, said Marco. Everything, said Amy, is curated to make patrons feel that they are truly walking into the northeast Italian region of Veneto.

“We’re not trying to be all things Italian,” she said. “We’re really focused on that region, on the food of that region, on the traditions of that region. Coming here, having a meal here, is the cheapest round-trip fare that you can get to Italy.”

As such, don’t expect to come into VENETO and see chicken piccata or eggplant parmesan. Don’t even expect crushed red pepper flakes. Marco creates the menu—two menus, actually, a standard and a seasonal—and his focus is entirely on creating an authentic culinary experience. Looking for spaghetti? You’ll get fresh bigoli instead, a thicker, toothier version of its well-known cousin, which is more popular in the Veneto region. Everything, from the pasta to the cheese selection, is thoughtful and authentic, a reward for the culinarily curious.

For a first bite, a patron might get a taste of Italy with some melon and guanciale, but those ingredients are all local. While the wines and some cheeses in VENETO are imported, the meats and vegetables are all locally sourced, utilizing Utah companies like Caputo’s, Creminelli Fine Meats and Keep It Real Vegetables.

“We find the produce as close as possible to here,” said Marco. “The cheese is so different from the U.S. to Italy that we need to import it. But the vegetables and the meat—the meat is extremely phenomenal here. We just take the local meat and cook it and prepare it in the Veneto style.”

Currently, Marco says he is in the process of dry-aging steaks. VENETO’s August menu also includes a salted cod that takes four days of soaking in water to get the flavor just right—it’s then crisped and served with a fresh tomato sauce and zucchini blossoms. The Stevanonis hope that people come to their restaurant with an open mind to seeing Italian food different than the fare they’re used to, with a desire to try new flavors and taste new wines.

The wine list at VENETO is “2 percent done,” said Marco, although to a novice the list already looks quite robust. The wines are categorized by sparkling, white, rose and red—and also by flavor profile, the producer name, the grape, and its point of origin. Marco, who has a wine import business based in New York, says when he is done with the list, he believes it will be the best in Utah.

“An important part of the Veneto experience, for us, is that we don’t only want people to come and fill their stomachs. We want them to come and learn something,” said Amy. “Learn about the wine, learn about the food, the pairings, the culture, the traditions of Italy. That’s one piece of us wanting to invest in our guests.”