The aroma of roasting garlic and freshly baked bread filled the air, teasing and taunting, heightening the senses. A lone man stood, 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, coupled with a delicate blend of rosemary and thyme. Streets bustled as tourists milled around the myriad pretty cafes and bars, celebrating Ireland’s patron saint. Venice’s pretty red fascia beckoned, bright windows showcasing happy customers savouring their food. Friendly staff greeted customers, seating them at rough wooden tables, offering the best house wine.
Mine, a party of four, sat in a cosy little alcove, sheltered by some glass panes. Venice’s Monday night offer was a starter, main and beverage of your choice for €19.99 per person. From a selection of starters, I chose 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 texture of the feta was crumbling all the while retaining its slightly firm texture and creamy consistency. The starter which served two, was laid out buffet style on the roughhewn table. While we waited for our main course to arrive, palates were cleansed by a glass of house white and classic Birra Moretti Italian beer.
Soft music played in the background adding to the warm, bright ambience. The scent of fresh dough emanated from the bistro kitchen, tantalising our taste buds as we waited for pizza Leggera and lasagne with a side order of chunky cut chips to arrive.
The Leggera, a suitable vegetarian main, consisted of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and pungent oregano. The aromatic fragrance was nearly as delicious as its taste. The lasagne and side order was flavoursome, and the beef mince and pasta were married perfectly by the optional topping- a dish of parmesan. The 12’’pizza, boasted generously cut slices and was sumptuously covered in cheeses.
The wine, a full bodied white went perfectly with the dishes and as we sat enjoying the rich sleepy contentment brought on by a great meal, I noticed families, smiling, laughing, and enjoying their Monday evening together. As we sat and waited for the delicious fullness to subside, coffees were ordered at the next table.
The waitress, a charming, helpful woman, bustled about collecting dishes and taking orders. We called for the cheque and left the quaint little bistro. As one of my party commented on the attentiveness of the staff and expressed his pleasure at the quality of the dining, I casually glanced at my watch, it was 11pm.
I surmised that so attentive were the staff, they had kept their bistro open an extra half an hour past closing. Their opening hours 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.
Other customers have described Venice, as amazing quality and value, with fantastic portion sizes and a friendly warm atmosphere. One of the most important factors I take into account when deliberating on where to eat, are their bathrooms.
On this score I can happily attest that Venice exceeds expectations and it is on this account among the several others previously mentioned that I award Venice an outstanding 8/10 and hope to dine there again soon.