by Natalie Mikles – Dec 28, 2020 Updated Dec 31, 2020
Little Venice, a cozy but elegant new Italian restaurant, is a place for food lovers.
This isn’t a place where people just end up, but rather a destination restaurant. It’s in an old building on a quiet street in Sand Springs. Exposed brick meets white tablecloths and beautifully presented food in the dining room, centered by a bar where hung crystal glasses sparkle in the dim light.
Little Venice isn’t a spaghetti and meatballs Italian restaurant. Dried pasta, tomatoes and some other ingredients are regularly imported from Italy. And besides a few staples, the menu frequently changes depending on what owner Walter Munaretto and chef Enrique Semeria feel like cooking.
“We keep it simple,” Munaretto says. “We don’t have recipes. We might decide on pork shoulder and say, ‘Sweet peppers sound good, maybe some Gorgonzola.’”
And then pork shoulder with gorgonzola and sweet peppers makes it to the menu.
It’s the Northern Italian style of food Munaretto grew up eating and continued eating after he moved from Italy to the U.S. in 1975. Since then he’s worked in restaurants across the country, and for many years was the general manager at the Summit Club.
When Munaretto and his wife, Candi, opened Little Venice in the spring, many people came just to support Munaretto, who has gained many loyal friends in the restaurant industry from his years at the Summit. As friends told friends about just how good the food is, he has now gained the loyalty of people who never knew him from the Summit Club but do appreciate the simple, fresh Italian menu.
Candi Munaretto says she’s often told by people that Little Venice feels familiar. She says it’s likely the intimacy and comfort they create that gives people that feeling. “I once had a woman say, ‘I just want you to give me a pillow so I can curl up right here,’” Candi says.
The Munarettos say women dining alone are common at the restaurant, and they are pleased to have a place where women feel comfortable to have a glass of wine, pasta and dessert to enjoy for themselves.
The Munarettos won’t turn guests away, even when they’re officially closed. They recently had a group of women come in at 10:45 a.m. as the kitchen was still preparing for lunch service. Candi told them to come in, take off their coats and get warm while she made them some espresso.
Cyclists who ride through Sand Springs sometimes stop at Little Venice during a ride for a bite to eat or to have a drink. Candi says they’re welcome just as they are in their cycling gear.
The week we visited, the dinner menu included such specialties as black ink squid linguine with seafood ($26), veal scaloppini with shrimp and mushrooms ($28), grilled ribeye with lobster ravioli ($32) and the pasta dish casarecce arrabiata with Italian sausage and a spicy tomato sauce ($18). Lasagna ($14, lunch; $16, dinner) is a staple.
Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday. The week we visited, lunch included pasta e fagioli ($8), stuffed pork loin ($18), butternut squash ravioli with pumpkin sauce ($18) and grilled zucchini with basil, tomato and mozzarella ($12).
Desserts here are special, too. The signature dessert is a panettone bread pudding ($12), served in a little crock. Tiramisu ($10) and simple almond, pear and berry tarts ($9) also are favorites.
Little Venice serves mostly Northern Italian wines and the Munarettos’ personal favorite wines.
“I am the wine list,” Walter says. “People like my recommendations.”
The bar also serves several Italian cocktails, including aperol spritz ($10) and negroni ($10).
See the article at TulsaPeople.com
Review of Little Venice – Tulsa World
LITTLE VENICE — EATALIAN FOOD & WINE
Food: 4.5 stars
Atmosphere: 5 stars
Service: 5 stars
(on a scale of 0 to 5 stars)
11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 5-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. All major credit cards accepted
COVID-19 INFORMATION: Dining room arrangement to provide social distancing. All staff wear masks. Takeaway service with curbside delivery is available.
Little Venice opened in May in downtown Sand Springs and soon after it opened the Tulsa World ran a story highlighting the history of its owners, Candi and Walter Munaretto, in the hospitality business, including Walter’s 20-year tenure with the Summit Club, a private club known for its fine food and impeccable service.
In that preview story by Tulsa World restaurant critic Scott Cherry, Walter Munaretto said that the menu for Little Venice “will be as Italian as it can be. The food is mostly from northern Italy. It’s a lighter style. We won’t have pastas smothered with the big, heavy sauces.”
The story concluded with a promise that a full review would be forthcoming. Unfortunately, Scott wasn’t able to get back to Little Venice before he left the Tulsa World in September.
In that preview story, Walter Munaretto said that the menu for Little Venice “will be as Italian as it can be. The food is mostly from northern Italy. It’s a lighter style. We won’t have pastas smothered with the big, heavy sauces.”
Another feature would be that the bulk of the menu at Little Venice—Eatalian Food & Wine — to use its full name — would change weekly, depending upon products that were available and in season. Each week’s menu is posted Tuesdays to the restaurant’s website and Facebook page, or one can sign up to receive email notices for the latest bill of fare.
Also, several of the new restaurant’s staff, including chef Enrique Semeria, followed the Munarettos from the Summit Club.
So expectations for this new venture were somewhat high. Fortunately, a recent visit showed that said expectations were more than met.
We made our sojourn to Little Venice the week in between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when it was offering its “Un Felice Anno Nuovo,” or “Happy New Year,” menu.
Little Venice is located on the triangle that is Sand Springs city center, in a long, relatively narrow building. The interior is done up with dark woods, exposed brick and white ceilings, with whimsical touches such as old doors from the building’s previous incarnations as wall panels that give the space an elegant yet cozy setting.
Diners are presented soon after being seating with a basket of warm bread, accompanied by small bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread has a thin crisp crust and chewy texture, as well as an essence of rosemary. It needed no additives although we try a morsel dipped into the balsamic vinegar, which was tasty.
As this is an Italian restaurant, we had to sample at least one pasta dish, and opted for the Pappardelle di Fungi, or Egg Noodles with Wild Mushrooms ($18). Pappardelle is a wide ribbon, about an inch across, and here it was perfectly sized and cooked for spearing and twirling.
The mushrooms ranged from familiar fungi such as cremini and shiitake, mixed in with other, less immediately recognizable mushrooms that turned out to be little bombs of earthy, meat flavors. The sauce itself was almost like a glaze, and there was just enough of it to bind the pasta and the mushrooms together.
The main dish for the evening was a classic — Saltinbocca ($28). Strictly speaking, it is cutlets of veal that are lightly breaded and sauteed, topped with leaves of sage and paper-thin slices of prosciutto.
I honestly do not remember the last time I had veal but I know it wasn’t like this. The meat was so tender that one could describe it as “creamy,” and its gentle flavor played perfectly off the assertively herbaceous sage and the salty chew of the prosciutto.
It came with a serving of capellini, or angel hair, pasta in a bright, clean tomato sauce topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and finely chopped parsley, and a ratatouille of zucchini, eggplant, tomato, onion and bell pepper that bore of hint of peppery spice.
I’ve no idea which, if any, of the items on the New Year’s menu will continue on, although it is a good bet that the Lasagna al Ragu di Carne, or Lasagna with Meat Sauce ($16), will be available most days for lunch and dinner.
For those who enjoy a bit of show with dinner, the restaurant’s Caesar salad ($12) is prepared tableside, and the menu usually includes a whole roasted fish that is deboned and served at the table (Bronzino was the fish of this week, at $45).
Desserts are selected from a cart, and on this particular evening, the choices included a variety of pies, as well as an Italian bread pudding, and carrot cake. We went with the carrot cake ($8), which was rich in fruit and nuts, and featured a good layer of cream cheese frosting that was just sweet enough.
Raynudo was our principal waiter, and handled the job with poise and efficiency. But one is likely to receive help and conversation from just about everyone on the staff over the course of one’s meal, including the Muranettos, who make it a point to greet every guest, and make even those making their first visit to Little Venice feel like a regular.
Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce
Hospitality is Key Ingredient at Little Venice Restaurant – Eatalian Food and Wine
If there is one thing Walter Munaretto has learned during his storied career in the food service industry that has taken him around the world, it is the importance of hospitality.
“If you show people the right hospitality, they will want to come back to you,” Munaretto said.
From the personal greeting patrons receive from Munaretto and his wife and co-owner Candi to tableside preparation, a personal touch is one of the priorities for the couple who opened up Little Venice Restaurant Eatalian Food and Wine in downtown Sand Springs earlier this year.
Little Venice features authentic Venetian recipes with 10-12 freshly-made entrees with a majority of the items changing on a weekly basis. Menus are updated on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
This week’s menu includes bianco, rosso, verde (grilled zucchini, basic, tomato and mozzarella), vitello al marsala (veal scaloppini with Marsala wine) and valtellina (dried cured beef, taleggio cheese, polenta and wild mushroom). Staples like bread, salad and other pastas are also available.
A native of Italy, Walter began his career in food service at the age of 15. He told his mother his interest in the business was because of the “good food and good drink” he witnessed.
“I was always starving so this looked good to me,” Walter said with a hearty laugh.
Munaretto worked in Switzerland and England and first came to Tulsa in 1976. He left and then returned again in 1995 to work at the Summit Club. Munaretto became the general manager at the Summit Club and soon developed a reputation as one of the most accomplished in the industry around Green Country. Walter was honored as one of Tulsa’s Men of Distinction in 2012.
He eventually retired from the Summit Club in 2016. But Walter and Candi, Sand Springs’ residents for the past decade, wanted to bring a unique dining experience into the community.
“We loved Sand Springs and when we looked at places in Tulsa, nothing felt right,” Candi said.
The Munaretto’s looked at another place in the downtown area before being introduced to their current location at 208 N. Main.
“I got a phone call about this building from a friend,” Candi said. “They said ‘it’s got great bones.’”
Candi fell in love with the place immediately.
“I knew when I first walked in this was the place,” she said. “Everything was here. It just needed to be fitted to what we were doing.”
The lease was signed in March 2019 but what lied ahead was a year-long project in order to have the space, previously used as a photography studio and salon, ready for the restaurant business. Candi said some of the focus was to open up the space while showcasing the location’s natural features, all while adding their personal touches along the way.
“We had to do a lot for the City to bring it up to code,” she said. “I felt like we took many steps back to go forward.”
Finally ready to open this past March, Little Venice was hit with another roadblock, the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited to takeout service only, the brand new restaurant was able to survive, thanks in large part to the following Walter had created since his time at the Summit Club.
“We had a lot of support from a lot of people,” Candi said.
On May 1, Little Venice was able to open its doors to the public after the statewide shutdown on indoor seating for bars and restaurants was lifted. Candi remembers Walter getting message as soon after word began to spread.
“They made the announcement on Wednesday (April 29) that things could open on Friday,” she recalled. “I remember hearing Walter’s phone buzzing and looking at the clock. It was 11:39 (p.m.). These were people who had his personal number and were texting him at night trying to make reservations … That’s when I knew we had to do this.”
Despite some ups-and-downs along the way, word of Little Venice is beginning to spread. The restaurant includes the Tavolo de la Familia and Giulia rooms, which allow for larger family or private gatherings.
Munaretto has passed his knowledge onto the staff. Raymundo Macias works in the front of the house while baker Luigi Sposato and Estefani Figueroa, in charge of salads, antipastos and other cold items, help prepare the freshly-made dishes.
“We feel like we have a family here with our staff,” Candi said. “And that’s how we want everyone to feel when they come in. Like a family.”
Little Venice is open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday brunch is expected to be offered soon. Walk-ins are welcome during the week. Reservations are preferred on the weekends and can be made by calling 918-514-0134.
By Shawn Hein
Former Summit Club GM opens Little Venice in downtown Sand Springs
Walter Munaretto has a long history in the restaurant and hospitality business around the world.
He has worked on cruise ships and at places in Italy and Florida. A number of Tulsa-area diners know him for his 20 years at the Summit Club, a private club downtown, where his titles included general manager.
Munaretto, his wife, Candi, and daughter Candice Sanders were preparing to open their own eatery, Little Venice Restaurant, in Sand Springs on April 1, but got derailed by COVID-19 restrictions.
“We were all ready to open and got shut down,” Candi said.
Candi said even with little name recognition and being in a small town, they offered a limited menu for curbside pickup until this week, when they were allowed to have dine-in customers again.
“We did pretty well with the takeout,” she said. “A lot of people know Walter. People came from Tulsa and even Grand Lake, and people in Sand Springs have supported us.”
The lunch and dinner menus are posted weekly on the Little Venice Facebook page.
“We will probably have three or four dishes stay on the menu, but the rest will change every week,” Walter said. “It will be as Italian as it can be. The food is mostly from northern Italy. It’s a lighter style. We won’t have pastas smothered with the big, heavy sauces.”
Little Venice is serving lunch and dinner Tuesday-Friday and dinner only Saturday. A Sunday brunch will be added in the future.
This week’s lunch menu included antipasto, salads, soups and entrees such as lasagna al ragu di carne (lasagna with meat sauce), gamberi e linguini (shrimp linguini), vitello al coltello (sliced veal scaloppini with mushroom cream sauce and pasta), sogliola al vino bianco (Pacific sole with white wine, pasta and vegetables), and battuta di pollo alle erbe (herb-marinated grilled chicken breast with pasta and vegetables). Entrée prices ranged from $10 to $16.
The dinner menu was considerably more extensive. Entrée highlights included capesante e gamberi (scallops and large shrimp with linguini and arugula pesto), pappardelle Pomodoro (egg noodle pasta with tomato, mozzarella and basil), arrosto di maiale alla Toscana (roasted Tuscan pork with pasta and veggies), brasato di agnello con lenticchie (braised lamb loin with lentils and polenta), plus the veal scaloppini and Pacific sole. Entrees ranged from $12 to $22.
Joining Walter in the kitchen is Enrique Semeria, a co-worker for many years at the Summit Club.
Little Venice is located in an old building in downtown Sand Springs. Though it is a white tablecloth restaurant, the dining room has a comfortable ambience. The room includes a glass-covered, communal wooden table that seats eight to 10.
“It came from an old bar in Dallas,” Candi said. “Walter went down to pick up some stuff and drug it home. I didn’t know what we were going to do with it, but it fit our space here perfectly.”
Candi said when social distancing restrictions are lifted, she hopes to see the communal table filled with diners.
“If you sit there, it’s no telling who might end up sitting next to you,” she said. “I can see business deals being made there.”
Candi said the reason is simple for locating their restaurant in Sand Springs.
“We live here,” she said. “Sand Springs is a wonderful little town.”
April 11, 2011, Tulsa World article:
Summit Grill nears completion
“We used to have a buffet, and the chef would precook one hour in advance,” said Walter Munaretto, general manager. “Now, everything will be cooked fresh; you’ll see the chef cook it for you. At lunch, the best value is the buffet (for) $15, plus everything is nice and fresh.”
Following the renovation of its penthouse, the club saw its membership jump by 24 percent to 1,540.
“We’re hoping to see another jump in membership, as well as usage, because this floor was hardly used except at lunch,” Weger said. “We’re paying a lot of rent for all of this space. This floor will now be open all day long and in the evenings, too, as opposed to just being opened at lunch.”
Munaretto said he expects a couple hundred more members will join.
“Not immediately, but once it’s open with the different situation,” he said. “You have the fine dining. Now you’ll have the casual dining, the nice bar, the outside terrace, the view — there’s no reason for people not to be at The Summit Club.”