The Venda Ravioli Store….at some requests, a repeat

I have been going to the Venda Ravioli location on Federal Hill in Providence for years, but when I started it was not Venda. Dad called it “the Five and Dime store” where he took me on Saturday evenings to roam while the adults strolled along the pushcart laden streets of DePasquale Avenue. Yes Woolworth occupied the site long before, but Venda’s has so ably taken its place.
Venda’s is a store full of authentic foods from Italy with a fine trattoria tucked in the rear and a cozy café in the corner as bonuses.
The smells, the sights and the sounds that surround you as you walk through the doors fill you with excitement.
To the left are people lined at the register clutching their goods with love, ready for the feast that they will take home.
Straight ahead and to the right, behind counters of cheese, meats, mushrooms, artichokes, peppers, cooked delicacies to mention a few, is a welcoming, energetic staff dressed for the occasion…white smocks, white hats and cheerful smiles. One of them was a lady from my grandfather’s town in Italy, Roccamonfina.
The staff loves to chat and give the feeling that the store is open just for you. “Prego” is the word that translates to, “may I help, what would you like, enjoy, our pleasure, enter, this is the place to be.”
You can make the turn around the laden display cases. And you can do it again.
It is a gastronome’s delight that entices your eyes, ears and nose with  aromas of cheeses, oils, balsamic vinegar, red sauces and garlic… all mixed with the wood of the venerable building. Along the walls are dry goods such as espresso pots, ceramic platters and beautiful imported linens.
After the loop around the continuous counter, you may know what you want, but un attimo, a moment, because it may be time for lunch in the cozy restaurant, or a caffe’ in the coffee shop tucked in another corner. I love the rabe and sausage with a glass of red wine in the trattoria, and I have also had the best cappuccino in the bar…the word Italians use for a coffee shop. If you’re lucky, you will be surrounded by Italian men speaking Italian and you’ll think you are in Italy. And with more luck, you might hear a Neapolitan tune from Luigi, a local character who often entertains the customers with his offerings of song.
“Alan,” I asked the owner, “Is the coffee this good because of the machine?”
“No, my daughter is the one who knows how it should be made because she learned the right way.”
Indeed. Everyone at Venda has pride in what they do.
Toni LaPierre, the resident cheese monger, says “I love anything Italian, especially the cheeses.” But it’s more than cheese at Venda. It is a quest for quality without compromise.
So there it is, wrapped in a savory package…salumeria, trattoria and café…with the tradition, sounds, sights and smells of Italy attended with love.
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3 Comments on “The Venda Ravioli Store….at some requests, a repeat”

  1. Joe Giusto Says:

    Venda Ravioli, as close to Italy as it comes..
    Thanks, Doc, for the beautiful description.
    Enter Venda, forget you came in from Federal Hill, and you will get the feeling you ARE in Italy.

  2. Fran L.oszynski Says:

    I have yet to enter that wonderful establishment and relish in the food they offer. This article makes me want to do that!

  3. Brian Bodio Says:

    Venda is an awesome place, what a terrific Italian market. I make the 30 minute ride on many weekend mornings and totally enjoy our visit. Do a little shopping, grab an espresso and enjoy the atmosphere. Luigi greeting customers and singing Italian songs reminds me so much my papa Luigi Paradiso, all that is missing is the mandolin!

    – brian

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