The aroma of roasting garlic and freshly baked bread fills the air, teasing and taunting, heightening the senses. A lone man stands, a placard abound his person, advertising a quaint little Italian bistro slightly off the beaten track. A little laneway, 20 Lower Abbeygate, just off Galway’s Eyre Square, is home to this spectacular hidden gem.
The restaurant so aptly named Venice, promises all the rusticity of the Italian countryside with the convenience of a city central location. Streets bustle as tourists mill around the myriad pretty cafes and bars, celebrating Ireland’s patron saint. Venice’s pretty red fascia beckons, bright windows showcasing happy customers savoring their food. Friendly staff greet customers, seating them at rough wooden tables, offering the best house wine.
Mine, a party of four, sits in a cosy little alcove, sheltered by some glass panes. Venice’s Monday night offer is a starter, main and beverage of your choice for €19.99 per person. From a selection of starters, I choose the Insalata Di Mare, an invigorating dish of smoked salmon, fresh salad, tomato, red onion, feta cheese with lemon and balsamic dressing, the sweet tanginess beautifully complemented by the smoked fish and saltier cheese.
The feta crumbles to the touch all the while retaining its creamy consistency. The starter which serves two, is laid out buffet style on the rough hewn table. While we wait for our main courses to arrive, palates are cleansed by glasses of house white and classic Birra Moretti Italian beer.
Soft music plays in the background adding to the warm, bright ambiance. The scent of fresh dough emanates from the bistro kitchen, tantalizing our taste buds as we wait for pizza Leggera and lasagna to arrive.
The Leggera, a suitable vegetarian main, consists of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and pungent oregano. The aromatic fragrance nearly as delicious as its taste. The lasagna and side order is flavorsome, and the beef mince and pasta married perfectly by the optional topping- a dish of Parmesan. The 12’’pizza, boasts generously cut slices and is sumptuously covered in cheeses.
The wine, a full bodied white accompanies the dish perfectly. As we sit enjoying the rich sleepy contentment brought on by a great meal, I notice families, smiling, laughing, and enjoying their Monday evening together. As we sit and wait for the delicious fullness to subside, coffees are ordered at the next table.
The waitress, a charming, helpful woman, bustles about collecting dishes. We call for the cheque and leave the quaint little bistro. As one of my party comments on the attentiveness of the staff and expresses his pleasure at the quality of the dining, I casually glance at my watch, it’s 11pm.
I muse that so attentive are the staff, they had kept their bistro open an extra half an hour past closing. Their opening hours typically extend from 12pm -22:30pm Monday to Saturday and 1pm-22:00pm on Sundays.
Venice, their staff and their exquisite epicurean delights make it a five star dining experience. I would highly recommend this Italian restaurant to anyone visiting Galway and if the signed photo of TG4’s Sile Seoige on the wall is anything to go by, I doubt I’m alone in that recommendation.
Venice prides itself on its authentic Italian cuisine and their food certainly delivers. Fresh ingredients and a distinctive taste is what keeps Venice’s customer coming back for more. All dietary requirements are catered for as the humble little restaurant strives to provide an inclusive menu, which includes vegetarian options. On the Trip Advisor website, as seen here, Venice ranks no.7 out of 176 of Galway’s finest restaurants.