It's not every day that I can show a Fort Wayne native something new in his hometown, but that's exactly what happened when we went for lunch at The Venice on Goshen Road.
Dining at The Venice is like taking a step back to old Fort Wayne. Originally known as the Key Dining Room, the restaurant has been in business since 1948 and is located along the historic Lincoln Highway. It's been owned by the Finley family since 1981.
As we perused the menu, the jalapeno poppers caught our eye; they proved to be an excellent opener. These spicy morsels were served piping hot, with a side of chunky tomato dipping sauce. The breading was substantial, and the creamy cheese filling balanced the heat from the pepper. The poppers were delicious but were a bit challenging to eat. Each time I took a bite, I pulled the pepper out of its shell. The dipping sauce was first rate.
My sandwich – the O'Boyle Royal – was stacked with thinly sliced beef, gooey melted cheese, juicy tomatoes and crisp lettuce, all encased in a light, delicious bun. I really enjoyed this sandwich. The meat tasted like it had been cooked for hours. The sandwich was such a healthy portion that I could only eat half. After my friend tasted the sandwich, he was more than happy to take the rest home.
Two large pieces of Italian sausage topped the rigatoni entree my friend ordered. There was a plentiful amount of pasta and rich tomato sauce. After a few bites of the sausage, he was hooked. He liked it so much that he wanted to know whether the sausage was made in house. We inquired and it is. It's also the same sausage that is used on pizzas.
He said it was probably the best Italian sausage he has ever had. After trying it, I agreed.
The thick slices of homemade bread were excellent for mopping up the remaining chunky tomato sauce.
For dessert, I took the cannoli. When it arrived, it looked too beautiful to eat. The tubular Italian pastry was piped full of a luscious cream filling and striped with drizzles of chocolate. Each end was studded with a maraschino cherry. There is no better combination of ingredients. I could have easily eaten another.
Though my friend's turtle cheesecake was light and airy in texture, it was big in taste. The flavors blended well and the crust was easy to break apart with a fork. It was more silky and creamier than most cheesecakes I've tasted. It was scrumptious. Both desserts indulged our sweet tooth without making us feel too full after a large meal.
Our server was attentive, and our food came quickly. For the amount of food we received, the prices were a bargain.
From the home-cooked taste of the food to the murals on the walls by local artist James McBride, The Venice will satisfy your taste for old Fort Wayne – even if it's new to you.