Restaurant Review : Old Venice Restaurant

by on September 20, 2013 · 13 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

Old Venice frontOld Venice Restaurant
2910 Canon Avenue
Point Loma, CA 92106
619-222-5888

San Diego’s Restaurant Week unleashes the names of many restaurants that people do not try on a regular basis. Usually the cost is too high for the regular menu and some of these gems go untried by only those that can afford pricey meals. Barbara and I had made plans to go out to lunch as early as 3 weeks ago, but could never find a date that was agreeable to both of us.

Then Wham! Restaurant Week was upon us and one of the restaurants in the Pt. Loma/Ocean Beach area and a place she had been to last year appeared on the list. After checking the menu, she called me and suggested that we go to Old Venice for their $10 lunch special. It sounded like a good idea to me and she made reservations for us at 12:30 pm.

Old Venice jc mgicmushrmAlthough they take reservations at lunch, it was not needed. The waiter told us to sit anywhere we liked, but never mentioned there was an outside patio available also. We thought about eating outside, but there was a breeze blowing and we opted to stay inside. Although not crowded, it was very noisy, probably because of several large parties taking advantage of the $10 menu.

Two courses were offered: an appetizer and an entrée. The patron could choose one item from the appetizer menu and one from the entrée menu. The choices were:

PESTO BAKED FETA -Sheep’s milk feta baked with a pesto oil and garnished with sun-dried tomato, served with a garlic Crustini

INSALATA VENICIA, with walnuts, yellow raisins, feta, cucumber, pineapple and roma tomato served on gourmet greens. It was served with a pineapple balsamic vinaigrette.

MAGIC MUSHROOMS, were stuffed with snow crab and shrimp and baked with provolone cheese

ORGANIC ARUGULA –pear, roasted pecans, Dijon balsamic dressing, Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheese.

The offerings for the second course was:

MEATBALL SANDWICH, baked with marinara, mozzarella, garlic, onion, mushroom and tomato green and red pepper

CHICKEN CHIPOTLE with garlic, mushroom, tomato, chipotle cream sauce, rigatoni pasta,

CAJUN SHRIMP -garlic, sun-dried & roma tomato over black linguine in a Cajun spiced cream sauce

LINGUINE DE KATHLEEN – garlic, sun-dried roma tomatoes, onion, feta, pinenuts, pesto oil There was a note that stated that “gluten free penne was available”.

LASAGNA – either meat or spinach – layered lasagna pasta, ricotta and hearty marinara.

Old Venice jc linqBoth Barbara and I ordered the “magic mushrooms” that were very tasty. There were 4 of them in a dish, and served with a soup spoon. Both of us wondered how to eat the mushrooms with a spoon, since the melted cheese made them hard to cut, and they were somewhat slippery. We elected to use a knife and fork. The regular lunch menu has this item listed at $9 a serving, and I am not sure if there were 4 mushrooms on that plate or more.

When it came to ordering the second course, we both chose the Linguine, which was different than any I have had before. The regular lunch menu describes it as “Fresh egg and pepper linguine, roma and sun dried tomato, feta and pine-nuts tossed with pesto sauce.” ($10.75) There was no doubt the pasta was “pepper driven” for it was spicy. The feta was served on top which, for me was nice, because I don’t like feta and I could remove most of it – with the spoon I was given for the mushrooms! The pesto was also a little overwhelming, and I would have liked it a little less pungent.

We both elected to have water, and although brought to us immediately, we were never asked if we wanted a refill. My glass was empty for some time; Barbara’s was only half full. We were also served a chunk of garlic bread, that was not scored so that we both had to handle it to break it in half. Oil and vinegar were served in cruets along side the bread.

All in all, the meal was adequate. The $10 lunch gave us the chance to try a restaurant that we would not normally have tried at lunch time because the regular menu is a little steep for us. (We try to keep our lunch expenses down to no more than $10 a meal.)

However, and I have to point this out because, in a way, it really irked me. The “special” was because of “Restaurant Week.” Yet, there was a 20% gratuity automatically added on to the bill regardless of how many diners were at our table. The service was not worthy of a 20% tip and we resented that charge. We were never asked how the meal was; never asked if we wanted anything more – except dessert – and never had our glasses of water filled. Even though the total bill was $26.26, the $4.61 tip was extraordinarily high for the meal.

Would I go back again? Probably not. The noise is a killer; the service only fair. I hear that the music for the dinner patrons is nice, but it is way out of my price range.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Miguel G September 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Just had lunch today (9/20) with a large party of 15. We all ate from the menu cited above. Nobody in our party complained about the food. Our servers did a very nice job of serving such a large party.

Would I go back? Yes, but I live closer to and would more likely eat at “Alexander’s on 30th”, the owner’s son’ restaurant.

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avatar nostalgic September 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Well, when you wander over to Point Loma from OB, sometimes things happen.

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avatar Dana Levy September 21, 2013 at 8:51 am

I can only wonder at what this petulant writer expects for 10 dollars. If it was above the standard set by McDonalds then she (they) got way more than their moneys worth. And, they had water to drink. What a super meal they must have expected for that price. The tip was 4 dollars and she is complaining? What is a waiter person to do? Probably lucky they won’t be back. Restaurant week is to try these places out and try their food and have a good time for a resaonable price. I think she got way more than the price reflects and to write a negative and not neutral review isn’t right or informative. Maybe she doesn’t get out often or is living in the 60′s again.

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avatar judi September 21, 2013 at 11:12 am

Wow Dana! If I were to write a neutral review it would have no meaning, would it? I get out often – and I review often. I am not complaining about the $4 tip. I am complaining that there was an automatic 20% tip added to the bill. If the service was good I would have left that much – or more. When the service is bad, I tip for what I received. What is the wait person to do? Surely you jest. The wait person asks if everything is ok; do you need anything; can I get anything for you. The good wait person notices that the water glasses are empty and refills them. I said the food was fine; for a $10 special I got a lot of food – and slow service. I wonder what you expected me to say in the review? Untruths?

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avatar Dana Levy September 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I am thinking you injected too much personal bias and left out some of the actual truths. Neutral objective would suffice as you are trying to tell someone else what you observed and what they might expect. Instead you come across as petty, as stodgy, quite cheap, and somewhat bitter or unlikable. Would it kill you to ask your server for more free water? And if you have not been a waiter person lately it is most thankless and deserves a tip of 20 % unless they are rude and/or surly. Your piece seemed quite negative from the start and your premise went downhill from there. Tips aren’t a revolving scale that sends a message to the poor waiter person. It goes to the entire staff for taking care of you rather than you having to toil in your own kitchen, Divided among the cooks, dishwashers and yes sometimes the boss, it is the least one can do when dining out at a sit down restaurant. Gratitude and tips are in short supply. 10 % is always insufficient and tips should include the tax, unless you are spit at or such, You project no joy at all and I wonder how you get through the day sometimes. Seems like I was out with my irascible doddering grandmother from a bygone era and mostly clueless. But, the actual descriptions of the food were quite good.

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avatar Brian September 21, 2013 at 9:34 am

Not sure why if you are reviewing a restaurant with a friend you both order the exact same things? A more expanded review would have been had if you ordered different dishes and shared.

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avatar judi September 21, 2013 at 11:16 am

Brian, I agree with you. Usually I order something different than my partner, and today was somewhat of a fluke. The “magic mushrooms” were intriguing to me. Besides reviewing restaurants, I write cookbooks, and I was looking for something to add in my next book. The mushrooms were something I had not tried before. As far as the linguini, we should have ordered separate items; we could have shared, but we
felt we were being rushed by our waiter, and just placed our order.

But you are totally correct. I will hope that it doesn’t happen again.

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avatar Debra September 22, 2013 at 6:28 am

I went there once, years ago, with several of my neighbors. It was a Sunday evening, I was working graveyard and shouldn’t have even gone in the first place, as I ended up being late to work, due to the slow service. I requested a 1/2 order of Ravioli, the waiter informed me that he gave me the whole order–at the price of 1/2. Well, actually it was a FULL order at FULL price. I didn’t see the bill until the next day when my neighbor brought it over for me to pay my share. I have never gone back.

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avatar nostalgic September 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm

For restaurant week, I just ate at Anthony’s in La Mesa. You got three choices of entrée and two of dessert. Looking at Old Venice, there were limited first course-second course options. It isn’t the full menu of choices for making a selection on the Restaurant Week menu.

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avatar Charles September 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I wish we could get away from the archaic custom of tipping in this country. In Europe, tipping is discouraged; the wait staff and other employees receive a livable wage along with benefits. But as it is in the U.S. a $4 tip is the least you could do. The IRS has recently changed their rules, because of this restaurants will not longer have required tips as the owners will have to pay Social Securing and Medicare taxes for required tips, so Judi you will be able to leave your tip of $1.50 (all in change would be a nice touch).

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avatar Susie September 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Miguel G,
I actually do Not believe you, at all. Maybe, if all of the people at the lunch would have written, maybe believe it, but No since I have eaten there. It’s really Much Ado about Nothing. The food and the dining experience. The whole place should be redone and revamped. The best thing is Location, Location, Location. Well, not the parking.
They have now gotten on the band wagon known as Restaurant week. Its just a reason to increase patronage under the guise of decreased prices while serving decreased portions. Also to add on higher tips. A lot of restaurant week places do this too. It’s not right. It’s a “come on”. Their service is substandard there. But they sure can add and multiply well, especially for the tip. the place is rather eclectic but I ate there and left hungry. No refills on the ice tea. And no ice added to the “ice tea”. You have to keep asking for everything, napkins, butter, ice, refills. I do not want to have to keep begging for good service. I choose not to go to restaurant week as it is a scam. I think the wait staff there is either grandfathered in or new hires who just get by. They are just servers, not waiters. there is an “art” to being a waiter. Now its just throw and go.
I could write an entire dissertation on the lack of good or great places to eat in SD. & I am not that picky. I have just had my fill of poor attitudes, high prices, substandard food being presented, unprofessional & unethical people who are hired to be servers.
A so called nice place has decided to “pad” the bill to increase a tip…. for what? To help the wait staff collect more money? So No, Miguel, I do not believe you went there. I think its made up. A tip means “to improve service”, or ” to insure promptness”, not just to help fill up your purse since you chose to be a waiter. I also dislike very much when places “ask’ you to fill out the gratuity Line on the charge ticket. That is just asking for a tip. Really? So very unbelievable that that seems to be the Norm now too. Just go to any place around OB or West Pt. Loma/Midway/Sports Arena as they all ask for a tip.

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avatar Charles September 25, 2013 at 11:10 pm

I think restaurateurs should consider adding an additional tip line which would read:
Please add 5% more if your an angry woman patron.

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avatar Susie September 26, 2013 at 2:17 am

Not Helpful, Silly

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