Cassariano: That's Amore in Venice

By Megan McDonald May 9, 2011

Delicious alfresco dining in Venice? We'll take it?

Sometimes we Sarasotans don’t venture past our own city limits...a true culinary mistake. You will miss exceptional Italian fare if you don’t drive a few extra miles, and trust me, it is worth it. Perfect case and point: Cassariano on West Venice Avenue in Venice.

Tables are close together--feels like a true family-run Italian eatery.

Cassariano reminds me of Hanover Street in Boston. The space is small and everyone seems to know everyone- passing bowls of pasta and plates of organic pork tenderloin with porcini foam like it was Sunday at mama’s house (although you’ll have to try this gem Monday through Saturday for lunch or dinner; Sundays they are closed for family time).

Cassariano owners Luca Cassani and Antonio Pariano.

The restaurant's name is a combination of both partners last names, Luca Cassani and Antonio Pariano. Both were born and raised in Northern Italy. After many years working together in the restaurant business, both Luca and Antonio made the decision to venture out on their own and open Cassariano Italian Eatery.

Arugula, imported aged Parmesan and thinly sliced beef carpaccio

I first met these two gregarious partners at the Iron Chef competition in Venice several years ago thanks to KC Quaretti-Lee. They not only swept the challenge, they also swept our hearts with a near-perfect prepared dish, and they have clearly continued the award-winning cooking with fresh pasta, porcini foams, carpaccio with fresh arugula and lemon dressing, and an impressive Italian wine list that complements both delicate and heartier dishes--like bolognaise and sausage and tagliatelli pasta with cream.

Imported Borato cheese with basil drizzle atop perfectly ripened tomatoes.

One of my favorite moments--aside from each bite of our dinner--was sitting with Luca and Antonio at closing when they both sat for their family meal. With toasts, jokes and a plate of fresh tomatoes, basil and a splash of aged balsamic vinegar, their passion for life as much as their food filled the space with true Italian charm.

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