Vetting the Venetian Restaurant in Torrington


We believe reviewers have the responsibility of being both thorough and honest in their content. Long before we started CT Snapshot, Christina and I frequented websites such as Yelp and Urban Spoon to help us find the best places to eat in Connecticut. The reviewers who posted thorough and honest content proved the most helpful. As bloggers, we have the responsibility to do the same for our readers given our platform and reach. When we visited the Venetian restaurant in Torrington back in October we knew that we owed it to our readers to tell the truth about our experience.

The Venetian Restaurant is the only one of its kind in the state of Connecticut. It was started by Italian immigrants in 1960 and developed a reputation as a renowned restaurant since then. We respect and appreciate the legacy of this restaurant because of our adoration for history and our love for stories about the American Dream. Like the DilLullo family, our grandparents and great grandparents immigrated to this country to contribute something beautiful and meaningful.  The original owners of this restaurant undoubtedly made this contribution to the town of Torrington. A place with such a great legacy, however, must be maintained by people who love and care for it throughout the years.  Unfortunately, the Venetian restaurant failed to capture our hearts due to poor service and mediocre cuisine.

The Venetian Restaurant

Location:  52 East Main Street, Torrington, CT 06790

Grade: C

Website Menu Facebook

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Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 4.36.53 PMAtmosphere: 9/10-When we stepped inside the Venetian Restaurant, we noticed that the owners were making a considerable effort to immerse the customers in the culture of Venice. The paintings on wall were indicative of the city throughout the ages. The fancifully decorated tables showed a willingness to make customers believe that they were receiving a fine dining experience. The paintings on the wall spoke to my own experience in Venice. This particular painting (shown to the left) reminded me of my first gondola ride, minus the men in clothing of a different era. Others paintings reminded me of the beauty of Venice at any time of year.

Price/Selection: 8/10-The menu items are borderline expensive, but this is not out of the ordinary for Italian restaurants. Many Italian restaurants across the state of Connecticut tend to charge upwards of twenty dollars or more per menu item. While the restaurant’s seafood dishes average $20 or more, pasta dishes cost no more than $17. The Venetian Restaurant also offers a theatre menu for people attending a show at the Warner Theatre. This speaks to their awareness of their customers’ needs and makes them a viable option for theatre goers on a tight schedule.

Service: 5/10-The service is  what soured our experience. We fully realize that one  waiter or waitress is not representative of every staff member at a restaurant. One waiter or waitress, nonetheless, can leave a lasting impression on any customer. Our waitress first showed us an awareness of our needs. We asked for the show menu and she informed us that she would serve our food in a timely fashion. From there on, our waitress berated us with rude comments such as “make up your mind” and “I’m going to bring you a vase of water because you’re drinking a lot” instead of asking us if we wanted one. She also scoffed at us when we thanked her for bringing us our check. We were saddened that we treated our waitress with the utmost respect and she showed us none in return.

Taste: 7.5/10-We wanted to enjoy our fish and pasta cuisines, but they left much to be desired. These dishes were nicely decorated and assembled in a way that speaks to the chef’s culinary talent. We were excited to try our dishes because we read numerous reviews that described them as “savory” and “delicious.” While the dishes offered a palatable texture, they lacked the savory quality we had expected. They satisfied our hunger, but left us wondering about the delicious Venetian cuisine that oh so many customers have spoken of over the years.

In a nutshell-29.5/40-In our experience, The Venetian Restaurant fell short of its established legacy. We are open minded people and would be willing to give it a second chance, but unfortunately the service and food soured our first impression of the restaurant. We hope that if any staff members from the restaurant ever read this review, they will remember to value their customers and honor the restaurant’s great legacy. We encourage you to experience The Venetian Restaurant for yourselves and tell us if it measures up to your expectations of it.

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Italian Take 3-Machiavelli’s Italian Restaurant


CT Snapshot started two years ago with a newly opened Italian restaurant in Wethersfield. We went without any intention of reviewing the restaurant, never mind starting a review blog. We were two customers looking to enjoy an inexpensive, delicious Italian meal.  We encountered sheer disappointment. A year later, we continued our quest in East Hartford. While our experience improved, we were still left wondering if a restaurant that served delicious, inexpensive Italian cuisine existed in the state. Last night, we continued our quest and decided to put Machiavelli’s Italian Restaurant in Southington to the test.

Machiavelli’s Italian Restaurant

Grade: B/B-

Location: 75 Center street, Southington, CT

Website Menu Facebook

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10384670_10152586872957953_2577116091419246860_nAtmosphere: 8/10- From across the street, we noticed a few tables of people enjoying their meals outside. With wine glasses in their hands and good conversations, we knew they were perfectly content. As we entered the restaurant, we noticed the paintings of Italian and Italian-American culture that mounted the walls. We were pleased to note that the staff took the time to decorate the interior. The tables, however, left us slightly disappointed. Our tables were not set until our waitress came. We also found it odd that most of the tables in the restaurant were without cloths.We understood that it was a busy night for the restaurant, but we wondered how our experience would turn out.

Service: 9/10-We knew Machiavelli’s was short staffed when it seemed like our waitress served the majority of the tables at the restaurant. We also had to wait a considerable amount of time for our waitress to come to our table. Once she did, she apologized and took our order along with the orders of several other tables! We also received our meals in a reasonable amount of time. If the rest of Machiavelli’s staff is as efficient as our waitress proved to be, one can safely say that they care about customer service.

Price/Selection: 8/10-Italian restaurants tend to be pricy, but Machiavelli’s Italian Restaurant has a number of entrees at affordable prices. Entrees range in price from $10.99 to $29.99. People of all income levels can enjoy meals without breaking the bank. In terms of selection, Machiavelli’s offers a variety of entrees. We wondered if offering items such as steaks or burgers added or subtracted from the restaurant’s authenticity.

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 Taste: 8/10- We were left with varying emotions about our entrees and appetizers. We took note of the delicious sauces, sweet taste of the Italian sausage and scrumptious clam pieces. We also enjoyed the freshly baked breads.  We found the salad to be mediocre and could have had more vegetables to add to the taste. Christina also found her pasta to be a little dry. We can safely say though that we enjoyed our meals.

In a nutshell: 33/40-Machiavelli’s Italian Restaurant proved to be the best Italian restaurant we have reviewed in CT Snapshot so far. With a friendly staff and a wide array of menu items and tastes, we feel that Machiavelli’s Italian Restaurant has the potential to succeed in Southington. We still believe that an excellent, inexpensive Italian restaurant exists in the state and we will continue our quest to find it!

Machiavelli's Italian on Urbanspoon

Italian Take 2- Procaccini’s Italian Family Restaurant in East Hartford


We dared to try Italian cuisine via Groupon again to kick off the new year. Groupon provided us with a few Italian cuisine options, but Procaccini’s stood out the most due to its unique chef logo and welcoming name.  Since 1969, Procaccini’s has serviced the East Hartford area.  This fact intrigued us.  We expected a family-run  restaurant with old fashioned service and traditional values.  We were a little surprised by the mixed reviews on Urbanspoon.  One user wrote, “We are originally from East Hartford – and have never been able to find a better pizza anywhere!” Another user complained that “…the Waitress did not attend to us being in her section and would not bring us additional seasoned bread after sitting 20 minutes.” With the opposing reviews in mind, it was time to put Procaccini’s to the test!

Procaccini’s Italian Family Restaurant

Grade: B-

Location: 46 Main Street, East Hartford

Facebook Menu Groupon

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familiesAtmosphere: 9/10- When we walked into Procaccini’s,we noticed the eye-catching decor on the walls.  We enjoyed seeing a painted cutout of the Procaccini’s chef  on the wall and a beautiful painting of Venice near the kitchen.  Christina commented that the chef reminded her of Little Caesar’s “Pizza, Pizza”  mascot that sports the same name because of its cuteness and likability. Procaccini’s has the necessary eye candy to elate its customers before seating. We were also intrigued by the number of customers in the restaurant. By 6 pm,  Procaccini’s was filled with hungry families.

Service: 7/10-We found our host and waitress friendly.  They tried their best to bring food out in a timely fashion. Unfortunately,  Procaccini’s is understaffed on a busy night and barely able to handle the pressure. We didn’t wait long for our appetizers, but when the restaurant started to fill, we waited quite awhile for entrees, dessert and check. Procaccini’s needs more employees.

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Price/Selection: 8/10-From burgers to pizza, Procaccini’s has a diverse selection of menu items. You’ll find plenty of soups, salads, pastas, pizzas and desserts.  If you’re looking to order burgers or grinders, you’ll spend on average $10-13.  Pasta averages $12-17  and pizza ranges from $7-26 depending on the size.  You might spend more than you expect, but the prices match the portion size.  You will receive plenty to eat and plenty to take home. If you’re reading this in early January 2013, take advantage of the Groupon deal we provided in the link at the top of the page. If you spend $15, you’ll receive $30 worth of food. This is a standard Groupon Deal.

Taste/Composition: 8/10-We added composition to this category because how a dish looks will influence the way the customers reflects on his or her experience. Procaccini’s composition differs from traditional Italian cuisine.  Most notably, they layer their pizza toppings and serve spumoni without a shell.  We weren’t sure what to make of it, but enjoyed our savory dishes.

spumoniIn a nutshell: 32/40-Procaccini’s Italian Family Restaurant is a restaurant with history and potential to make even more history. We largely enjoyed the atmosphere and the diverse selection. Procaccini’s has the makings of a solid Italian restaurant and people see this potential. We cannot stress enough that this restaurant needs more employees.  A larger staff would help speed up service on those busy weekend nights.

Why you might want to check out Procaccini’s:

1. The onion soup-Procaccini’s offers a delicious onion soup topped with mozzarella cheese.

2. The layered pizza-We found the style a bit unusual, but you might enjoy the toppings layered inside the pizza.

3. The atmosphere-Procaccini’s unique logo and beautiful painting will catch your eye when you walk in.

blackies

Coming up next-Blackies Hotdog Stand exists as a time warp and treasured restaurant in Cheshire.  Will it live up to its reputation? Stay tuned!

Procaccini's on Urbanspoon

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Hole In The Walls


Update 7/20/12: Bella Anthony’s is officially closed as of April 2012.  To quote one user from Urban Spoon, ” The place is padlocked and clearly not in operation. A phone call confirmed the line is disconnected. Their website is not operating.”

Let’s be blunt.   If you’ve lived in Connecticut long enough, you’re probably sick of your predictable weekend routine.  All too often, you find yourself saying, “I can’t find anything to do.”  Don’t give up!  Let CT Snapshot be your guide.  Each week, we’ll review the best and worst of Connecticut’s weekend life.  Be informed.  Never settle for predictability.  This week, we examine Hole In The Walls.

The Online Etymology Dictionary defines the term “hole in the wall” as a “small, unpretentious place.”  Some of the best restaurants in Connecticut are hole in the walls! They often serve up an authentic taste that trumps the flavor of popular chain restaurants.  BE CAREFUL.  Not every hole in the wall is as authentic as it purports.

Banana Brazil Luncheonette

Overall Grade:  B+

Website: None

Location: Main St (State St), Danbury, CT 06810-7803

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Atmosphere: 8.8/10- We really had to dig to find this place.  Banana Brazil Luncheonette does not have a website and it is not widely known.  These factors are the hallmarks of a true “hole in the wall.” Banana Brazil Luncheonette lies in a diverse neighborhood on Main Street in Danbury.  This street features a variety of restaurants from around the world. This is the perfect location for a place like Banana Brazil. Its interior bares similarities to a modest café because it is not particularly colorful and has minimal seating.  But the aroma of South American cuisine makes the atmosphere truly captivating.  From the moment you walk in the door, you will smell freshly cooked meats and vegetables.

Service: 9/10- The bulk of Banana Brazil functions like a buffet.  Unlike some other buffet places in Connecticut, the food is always fresh and always hot.  The chefs cook diligently in the kitchen and the cashier greets customers with a friendly attitude.  When we passed the street a few hours after we ate, we discovered that Banana Brazil is open well into the night.  These long hours benefit the traditional “sit down” customer along with those who prefer take-out and/or late night snacking.

Selection/Price: 8/10-The buffet costs only $8! This rivals HomeTown Buffet’s standard price of $10 or more per person.  Banana Brazil offers a delicious variety of food including:  fried chicken, garlic pasta, plantains, salad, beans, rice and a rotisserie of slow-cooking cuts of meat. You can also purchase authentic, South American sodas. This delectable selection left us wanting more. The majority of Connecticut is largely unfamiliar with Brazilian cuisine. Banana Brazil could broaden its selection by exposing its customers to traditional desserts or stews.

Taste: 9/10-The food is nothing less than savory.  We recommend you sample of all of the dishes.  Polish off a sweet plantain.  Chow down on some finger-lickin chicken.  Munch on a juicy slice of meat.  If you can’t finish it all, take it home in a doggy bag.  The flavor won’t disappear if you decide to reheat it for a quick lunch.

In a nutshell:  34.8/40-Think of Banana Brazil as an opportunity to experience the dishes of different culture.  Don’t expect fancy decorations or enticing music.  Banana Brazil keeps it simple and authentic.  Like any true “hole in the wall,” this restaurant is a delectable discovery.  Since 1998, Banana has kept it simple and delicious.

Bella Anthony’s

Overall Grade: D

Website: http://www.bellaanthonys.moonfruit.com/

Location:  580 Silas Deane Hwy. Wethersfield

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Atmosphere:  5/10- Bella Anthony’s first sparked our interest on Groupon.com.  We saw the description of the Inghilterra family and their “old-world recipes” and felt elated.  Bella Anthony’s website added to the intrigue with details about musical entertainment in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, this is where the intrigue ended.  The show tune singer/piano man could not save the restaurant from its bland interior.  Other than a few film noir posters, Bella Anthony’s lacked any decoration that would indicate to the customer that it was authentically Italian.

Service:  6/10-We found the service to be disappointing but not without potential.  Bella Anthony’s is less than month old and it has a lot of kinks to work out.  To truly thrive, they need to hire a host, additional waiters/waitresses and more chefs.  Their only two waitresses treated with us with kindness and respect. Nonetheless, they were overwhelmed by a number of disgruntled customers who failed to understand that they were understaffed.  By hiring more employees, Bella Anthony’s will surely cut down the level of dissatisfaction.

Selection and Price: 8/10- Bella Anthony’s menu features a considerable number of items.  Customers can choose from a variety of Italian favorites including:  Pasta Fagiolli soup, Fried Mozzarella, Chicken Marsala, Lobster Raviolli, Spicy Sicilian Pizza and Espresso & Sambuca.  These prices range from $2 to no more than $18.  From a glance, Bella Anthony’s seems diverse and affordable.

Taste:  6/10-Our experience with Bella Anthony’s dishes left much to be desired.  The pre-course salads and bread did not taste distinctly Italian.  One would expect different from “old-world recipes.” Our Shrimp Scampi and Chicken Parm tasted either too hot or too cold and lacked spices.  We encourage you to try the other dishes to make a more informed decision. As with all restaurants, some dishes will taste better than others.  This depends on the quality of the ingredients and the chef’s experience with creating the dish.

In a nutshell: 25/40-For now, Bella Anthony’s scores a D.  We understand that Bella Anthony’s is a new restaurant, and we still see potential, but to compete with the other restaurants on the Silas Deane, they need to make some fundamental changes.  We will revisit this eatery in the coming year to measure the improvement, or lack thereof.

Bella Anthony's on Urbanspoon

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