Sunday, October 19, 2008

Venice Pizza & Italian Cuisine, Orange Park, Florida

Venice Pizza & Italian Cuisine
Fleming Plaza
1605 County Road 220
Orange Park, FL 32003


As I've mentioned before, I tend to stash restaurant coupons and bring them out when the family gets bored. Today was definitely another "please, not the same old hangout" day. So we drove out to Venice Pizza in Fleming Island, next to Player's Grille.

When I stepped through the door, I was struck by the mediocrity of the decor. I had expected to see either the candle lit, romantic decor of an Italian restaurant or a laid back, bright pizzeria. What I saw was darkly lit, with bland artwork that blended into the background and no music playing. That should've been a red flag to me.

Let me take your through our menu choices:

Soup of the day (limited quantities)

I understand that (1)We're in Florida and soup isn't in high demand and (2)sometimes items just run out. But it's not a good sign when "limited quantities" is on a menu. When I asked what soups were available, the waitress replied "we don't have any soup."

Pizza by the slice (when available)

I know many restaurants only have pizza by the slice at certain times. That's fine. However, I would've preferred Venice Pizza put on the menu "available after 5 PM" or "Monday through Thursday only." Our waitress just said "we don't have it right now." I still don't know what day(s) or times their slices are available.

Veggie Pizza: Onions, Mushrooms, Olive, Green Peppers, Spinach, Broccoli, Fresh Tomatoes, Extra Cheese
The toppings on this pizza were good. It was a little skimpy on the mushrooms, but otherwise fine. The tomato sauce was thin and unremarkable. The crust was unremarkable as well.

White Pizza: Our homemade white sauce, mozzarella cheese, spices, fresh tomatoes

The toppings on the white pizza were outstanding and had a nice garlic flavor.

Eggplant Parmesan sub

I had to choose between an eggplant sub and the eggplant dinner. The dinner would've included tossed salad, homemade garlic bread and a side of spaghetti. However, I think it was a good idea I didn't order the dinner. I say that because my dining companions received garlic bread with their dinners, consisting of buttered, toasted sub rolls mysteriously missing garlic. My sub came with the same bread. The slices of fried eggplant inside were crispy but void of flavor. The bread and sauce had nothing interesting for the palate.

Lasagna: A tasty homemade combination of beef, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese

The lasagna set before us was a burrito of sorts. It was a big noodle wrapped around beef and covered with tomato sauce. There was a bit of cheese sprinkled on top, but mostly covered by sauce. I don't know about the ricotta being in the lasagna. After leaving the restaurant, I said to everyone "Did that lasagna have ricotta or cottage cheese or anything like that ? I didn't see any." Not one of us remembered tasting or seeing ricotta. And that was before I whipped out the take-away menu to double check. All of us found the lasagna semi-soggy, under spiced and terribly disappointing. I've had better lasagna in school cafeterias : P


The tiramisu was rich, creamy and delicious. It was a bright spot in an otherwise half-hearted presentation.

Would I return to Venice Pizza ? Probably not. This restaurant lacked the personality, warmth and charm that make for an outstanding dining experience.

Turkish Ramadan Pide / Ramazan Pidesi

Yesterday, someone on a website I frequent mentioned Ramadan bread. That got me interested, so I set off in search of a recipe. I came across Binnur's recipe for Ramadan Pide at Turkish Cookbook. What a delicious bread it made ! My family loved it.

Clink on the link in the title to check out her yummy recipes. I can't wait to try more of them.

Source: "Turkish Ramadan Pide (Ramazan Pidesi)", Binnur's Turkish Cookbook blog, September 19, 2006

Quaker True Delights: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond

Previously I reviewed the banana & macadamia version of Quaker Delights. This week I tasted the dark chocolate, raspberry & almond variety.

The box of raspberry bars promises "whole,sweet, Heritage raspberries...crunchy toasted almonds and chunks of 45% cacao premium dark chocolate." The bars indeed had lots of delicious chocolate pieces. The raspberry flavor of the granola was natural tasting and subtle. However, the actual raspberries were minuscule. Most of the bars had just one or two almonds, or none at all.

I am on the fence whether I'd buy this product again.