In every neighborhood there are those culinary establishments that despite hell or high-water come to represent the past, present, and future of a neighborhood for residents. Venezia is one of those places. It is undeniably a neighborhood institution, offering diners from all over the world but most importantly New Orleans, the opportunity to sit in a place where thousands of New Orleanians have sat before, to enjoy heaping portions of traditional creole Italian fare.
For roughly 30 years, Venezia was owned and operated by Anthony Carollo since 1957. Anthony Carollo was the son of the infamous New Orleans’ mob boss Sylvestro “Silver Dollar Sam” Carollo. This remains an important part of Venezia’s history as customers frequently discuss the place as a former mob hang out as they enjoy their heaping plates of spaghetti and “red gravy”. In 1987 the property was sold to the current owner Anthony Bologna, who was responsible for the post-Katrina renovations and reopening.
Venezia is more than just a neighborhood pizza restaurant although they do bake a delicious Sicilian style pie. It is a neighborhood anchor that since the late 1950s has attracted other food oriented businesses to the area, beginning with its neighbor Brocato’s. When interview Mid City residents about what they perceived to be the draw of Mid City to New Orleans eaters, Venezia is nearly always at the top of the list. It is a restaurant that cooks up nostalgia for New Orleans residents everyday. On the spectrum of creolization-Americanization, Venezia is the opposite of Domino’s. Diners at Venezia spend hours supping and drinking delicious house wine. The idea is to savor the food and savor the history of New Orleans with every bite. I find the fact that Venezia is still bustling nearly every night of the week an excellent sign that despite their new neighbors (Pei-Wei, Five Guys, Felipe’s, Panera) New Orleanians are still willing to enjoy the slower more traditional things in life.
posted by Arianna King