Little Venice is quite literally your classic Italian restaurant. After multiple moves throughout its history in the city of Binghamton, the family-owned restaurant, now at 111 Chenango St., provides a warm atmosphere for its customers.
Though the crowd was a bit older, a college student would likely feel right at home as people nearby try to make small talk, as they did with the photographer and me, much like your own family members would.
The aesthetic of the place goes along with the traditional Italian feel, as the walls are decorated with paintings in ornate gold frames which come from owner Rocco “Rocky” Carulli’s very own collection. An attempt is clearly made to stay true to the Italian heritage, though the food faltered a bit.
Little Venice’s three-course meal during Restaurant Week is $12 for lunch and $20 for dinner and includes an appetizer, entree and dessert.
To begin, I went for the house-made soup of the day, Italian wedding. It was the most adorable little cup of soup I’ve ever seen. The broth was quite salty, but it was balanced out nicely by the bitterness of the basil. The chicken also added some necessary substance to the soup. I was a little off-put, however, by the copious amounts of Parmesan cheese, which I felt was overpowering. The photographer who accompanied me ordered the caprese salad. The presentation was beautiful with the yellow olive oil drizzled all over the plate, complemented by the juicy red tomatoes and green basil leaves.
For the main course I chose the chicken pizzaioli, which also happened to be the one gluten-free option. It was definitely not love at first bite for me, but soon the dish really grew on me. The chicken sauteed in olive oil and wine was absolutely delicious. It had a lot of flavor, though I think it could have been cooked just a little longer. The mushrooms on top were not my favorite, but the green beans on the side tied everything together nicely.
The photographer went for the ravioli with meat logs, which are meatballs in the shape of a log. As part of each place setting, there is a piece of paper which serves as a place mat and on it is a bit of history about Little Venice. On the place mat, it describes how the original cook thought that the meat cooked more evenly in a flattened shape as opposed to the traditional meatball. The sauce on that dish was extremely sweet, but with a decent amount of Parmesan cheese it was toned down and made more appetizing.
At this point we were both fairly satisfied with our meals, but hopeful that the dessert would push the meal over the edge. I ordered a classic, the chocolate brownie sundae topped with vanilla gelato and a pump of whipped cream and chocolate syrup. The photographer also chose a classic, chocolate gelato. Both desserts were again presented in appealing cups, not much larger than shot glasses, which was sort of unfortunate given of how good their contents were.
My brownie sundae had the perfect balance of cold gelato and warm, moist brownie. The chocolate gelato also lived up to a high standard. There was also a large assortment of homemade desserts offered with flavors ranging from chocolate mousse, to cheesecake, to salted caramel.
Little Venice is a great place to go if you’re missing home. The service was wonderful, the crowd was welcoming and the food was pretty good as well. Though I’ve definitely had better, I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to return.