August 17, 2013 Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Venezia: Awaiting a New Start in September


Welcoming: 4/5

Food Temperature: 8/10

Ambiance / Music: 7.5/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 18/30

Architecture / Interior: 10/10

Food presentation: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Value for money: Soon

For the past couple of years, many of us have actually thought that Venezia has closed. Which once was a renowned Italian restaurant with its grandiose setup and beautiful ambiance found itself totally forgotten by the Lebanese. Has it been management, bad marketing, or a bad chef? Many rumors spread, some said an Indian chef is cooking inside the Italian kitchen, others said that they actually serve simply heated canned food while others just said the food is simply below average.
I believe that this is about to change. Get ready for new start this September... new chef, new menu and new flavor.
Venezia, is simply a feel of Venice in Lebanon. Next to the Hilton Metropolitan entrance is an individual construction hiding a copy of a house in Venice with the arcades, stones, water canal and gondola. A restaurant that can or has everything to be one of the best in Lebanon.
In my opinion, a lot has to be improved... We were promised a change in September:
  • Change the restaurant chef, maybe get an Italian one
  • Get a real pizzaolo who knows what an Italian pizza is all about
  • Use fresh ingredients
  • Propose fresh pasta dishes
  • Change the menu completely and shuffle it up inside down
  • Work on creating better and tastier desserts
  • Train the waiters to handle and serve Italian food properly
After an intensive discussion with Paolo, the new executive chef of the hotel, he tells me that the problem is clear and that he is working on a big change. Launching this September is a new menu. Only fresh ingredients will be used (no canned, no frozen) and food will be cooked on the spot, never reheated food in microwaves which will be banned all throughout the hotel.
The place described:
  • A smiling hostess standing behind the welcoming desk takes you to your table
  • A middle table, in the heart of the restaurant acts as a decorative piece before reaching the seating area
  • Two dining rooms, one inside and another on the closed balcony
  • Round and square tables decorated with a full setup fill the space
  • A candle in the middle of each one adds a feeling of warmth
  • Relaxing wooden chairs with cushions make your evening a pleasant one
  • A real Italian feel like siting on the terraces of Venice, a concrete floor and a high ceiling
  • Soft dimmed yellow lighting
  • Italian musical tunes sooth all your senses
  • The upper floor is usually used for receptions
  • Stone arcades separating the two dining rooms
  • On the terrace, a higher area with couple of tables is located on the left corner of the restaurant
Dinner started with two baskets of bread, one thin pita bread, toasted and salted, olive oil bread and mini buns. Both are tasty.
The things I liked:
  • Blue water glasses
  • Georges, the head waiter is professional, welcoming and loves his job. I salute your efforts dear Georges
  • I also met Fadi, the manager who makes you want to come visit the place again. Bravo
  • The portions are generous
We had for dinner:
  • Bufala mozzarella salad: A large bull's heart tomato served with a couple of mozzarella slices and basil leaves. Seasoning I liked with just the right quantity of salt and pepper. I personally would have preferred the Burrata who's taste, shape and consistency are of a higher standard. The Burrata was on the old menu and it think should stay
  • Grilled Calamari salad: A new entry on the upcoming menu, this salad was the star of the night. Five fresh calamity, grilled to perfection with a slight burning taste I like and served with rocket leaves, cut in half cherry tomatoes and seasoned with lemon and olive oil. Simple yet tasty: I liked it
  • Eggplant Malanzana with mozzarella cheese: This was the first time I eat a Melanzana presented that way. This kind of dish is usually served in a casserole directly taken out of the oven. Usually: "The dish consists of a sliced filling pan fried in oil, layered with tomato sauce and cheese, and baked in an oven. In some versions, the sliced filling is first dipped in beaten eggs and dredged in flour or breadcrumbs before frying. Some recipes use hard grated cheeses such as Parmesan, while others use softer melting cheeses like mozzarella, or a combination of these." Today's version is simpler and more fine dining. Five slices of eggplant rolled in cylinders, filled with melted cheese, topped with crunchy Parmesan and bathing in tomato sauce. A beautiful and tasty plate even though the preparation lacks salt and seasoning and the eggplants are undercooked. I would have added more tomatoes to give it more flavor
  • Grilled vegetables: I personally didn't taste it as it contained way too much garlic. Around the table, I heard my friends saying that all the vegetables had the same taste and that the plate contained too much garlic. A burning aftertaste is unpleasant. On another hand, the asparagus were well cooked, crunchy and full of taste.
  • Risotto porcini. One of my favorite plates tonight was perfectly cooked, aldente rice with a juicy sauce and a perfect seasoning. The mushroom porcini are soft and tender blending perfectly inside the mix. Covered with parsley on top, a majestic flavor ignites. Fifteen minutes after being served, I tasted again and it was even better. I loved this plate.
  • Spaghetti alla pescatora: Mussels, palourde, shrimps, tomato sauce. A nice plate, cooked adequately and perfectly seasoned even though it contained way too much olive oil that was all over the place after I finished. My portion didn't contain garlic and I loved it. On another hand, my friends all complained of the over use of this ingredient.
  • Seafood Ravioli: Four giant green ravioli served with shrimps on top, soaked in sauce and filled with a shrimps puree. Served aldente, this plate is delicious. The spicy sauce and inner filling of those round bites are unique
Venezia_Italian_Restaurant_Hilton_Beirut40 The Pizza: Unfortunately the pizza is far from even coming close to compete with any pizzeria around town
  • There was no pepperoni in the kitchen even though it is listed on the menu. We had to stick to salami
  • Salami is not spicy as I had expected to be: I asked for a Diavola pizza
  • The dough in undercooked
  • White and too spongy and lacks that hint of crunchiness
  • The tomato taste is way too commercial. It tastes cheap, sour and canned
  • Cheese should be more prominent and better distributed
  • A taste of sweetness haunts you all the way
  • The sides are too empty
I expected the Food to be much better
Negative points:
  • Prosecco was served in a wine glass and filled to top like if it was water
  • Waiters need an intensive training
  • The food was good but nothing impressed me much
  • The pizza: I'm sorry to say it bluntly,  its a simple disaster
Dessert bites: Very average... I wasn't impressed
  • Chocolate cake
  • Tiramisu cup
  • Mille feuille berry
  • White chocolate raspberry
  • Pat a choux, creme au caffe
My favorite tonight: A special dessert signature of chef Paolo:
  • Served in a champagne glass
  • Vanilla ice cream, vodka, coffee, cream
  • Cold, sweet, velouté feel
  • Looks like a 'cookies and cream' drink
  • Delicious, tasty and classy
  • I simply fell in love with it
Venezia has a lot of work to do to be able to compete with the other Italian restaurants around town. Margherita, the more casual trattoria serves better quality and tastier food and it's just across the street... A restaurant like this one, with its unique setup and professional personnel can do much better... Much much better. I think that this is going to be Paolo's job in the next comings months.





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