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Venti Tre Modern Italian: Fresh, friendly and flavorful

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The Venti Tre in Baltimore’s Canton Crossing is the first one, the original, created by the same folks who created Fazoli’s Restaurants. Venti Tre means 23 in Italian and they offer 23 or more fresh, flavorful ingredients to choose from daily. We had a guided tour of Venti Tre from Chef Ryan Herzing, whose enthusiasm for the concept was infectious. When I asked him for three words to describe Venti Tre he said, “Fresh, friendly and flavorful.”

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It is fast, fresh casual Italian food. You go down the line and you choose your own ingredients or you can simply go with one of the house specialties marked on the billboard menu:

· The Piada – Rolled Italian flatbread filled with your choice of fresh ingredients

· Pasta – Your choice of spaghetti, whole wheat penne or lasagna bianca

· Salad – Choose from baby spinach or romaine or spring greens.

Mix and match the ingredients but chef advised that on the first visit you might want to try one of the house specialties. My choice was the spaghetti pomodoro with crispy pancetta, bruschetta salsa, Grana Padano cheese and my companion went for the piada with grilled Tuscan lemon chicken, pomodoro sauce, romaine, spring greens, crispy pancetta, creamy Parmesan and herb dressing and Asiago cheese on the warmed Italian flatbread.

You might want to give Venti Tre a try, especially on Friday nights during their Fresh Summer Night free concert series on the green in front of the restaurant. Venti Tre has hired a selection of Baltimore’s best bands with Big Hair performing tonight Friday, August 22nd and Thunderball on Friday, August 29th. They are hoping to continue the free concert series through September. During concert nights enjoy $5 off the purchase of two entrees. Alcohol purchased at Venti Tre will be permitted on the outside green for the concert.

There are no French fries but there are seasoned polenta sticks with a choice of two dipping sauces; the house-made pomodoro or the creamy Parmesan and herb. My companion was coveting the polenta sticks and wouldn’t let the Venti Tre staff clear them from the table. They make a great go with for the piada or get a side of toothsome focaccia breadsticks to go with your pastas or salad.

Beverages, well I missed their Italian soda bar and instinctively went to ice tea but on a return visit I would try the citrus or orange Italian cream. One can even get a San Pellegrino if they are in a true Italian state of mind.

Also Venti Tre offers a discount every day to the men and women who serve in the armed forces as well as police and firefighters.

Chef Ryan brought out the cinnamon sugar bomboloni – six mouthwatering, fried dough bites worth the indulgence – you won’t want to share, get two orders.

So the question is would I go back on my own dime? The answer is if in the neighborhood, yes. It will be fun playing with the ingredients for a pasta, salad, or a wrap. A double order of bomboloni is a must.

The second Venti Tre is coming to Ellington Boulevard in Gaithersburg Maryland in the very near future and the 3rd in Lexington, Kentucky.

Venti Tre – Modern Italian - The Shops at Canton Crossing - 3731 Boston Street - Baltimore, MD 21224 - (410) 563-0302 - Monday - Sunday: 11:00am - 10:00pm www.venti-tre.com @VentiTreItalian

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