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“Taken advantage of? For our daughter's Graduation???”
Review of Venturas

Venturas
Ranked #41 of 184 Restaurants in Utica
Cuisines: Italian
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed 25 July 2013

I took our whole extended family(24 people) here today after our daughter's graduation. I had arranged for 1pm reservations, and we were to order off the lunch menu. Over the phone, I was assured the bar would not be included in our bill - that would be paid by those who chose to use the bar. Since I couldn't absolutely guarantee a minimum of 25 people, we could not have a buffet.( average cost of around $15 per person.) When we arrived, we found the dinner menu at our places. I found the owner and asked if we shouldn't have the lunch menu. He was quite firm on using the dinner menu (more expensive for the same portions). We all arrived within 10 minutes, and waited 40 minutes to order...I guess to justify the dinner menu???

I wished not to make a scene on our daughter's graduation from college, so I just took it - I know...my fault. This was the first time we were meeting out daughter's boyfriend's parents, and wanted things to go smoothly. I couldn't believe this, since I had called ahead (2 weeks) and was told the lunch menu could be used.

My husband and I were served cold lasagna. My husband's actually had ice crystals in it. The bill was impossible to read, (hand-written by wait staff) and since there was only one check, I thought the tip was included (and for $600, I figured it SHOULD have been!). I paid and we remained in the restaurant chatting while the staff cleared the table. I was among the last to leave. My brother called me and told me that they stopped HIM for the tip. I found it disrespectful that they did not speak to me, since I was the one who paid the check.

I got back to my daughter's dorm room and called the restaurant. I believe I spoke to the owner's wife. I told her about my understanding for the arrangements that had been made, and she offered no apologies. Really, that would have been nice. Instead, she made excuses for her husband...like - I told him he should include tips in large parties, but he only does it for buffets! I had budgeted $500 for LUNCH (with tip it came to about $730 - $30 per person! - For lunch!!), and had made many calls to local establishments to get estimated pricing. My daughter and I had even stopped in for lunch a week before graduation (on a Wednesday), and I have to say the food and service were much better.

Long story short, I feel like we were taken advantage of once we were there. If it had just been us and our kids, I would have left. This is the memory I am now stuck with for our daughter's college graduation.

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2  Thank BuckandLily B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (47)
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35 - 39 of 47 reviews

Reviewed 7 July 2013

This restaurant had fairly good ratings, and our first and second choices were either closed or too full that night, so we decided to try it. The service was mediocre. We had to ask for water refills. Our waitress didn't know what to do with our plates when the main meals arrived and the appetizer plates were still there. It might have been her first day. (She seemed to be in training.) We received olive oil and butter at least 15 minutes before getting bread, and I'm pretty sure we would never have seen any bread if we hadn't specifically asked for it. But at least the bread tasted good. That was one of the few culinary highlights of the evening. We ordered two small pizzas and two different pastas. The first pizza was an anchovy pizza that had more anchovies in each bite than you would expect to find in an entire pizza for 6 people. We shared the pizza as an appetizer but none of us could eat much as it was so salty. It must have had 10-15 super large super salty anchovies in the single serving pizza. The other pizza was ordered as a main meal. It had cheese and meat. It probably would have been tasty if the bottom wasn't completely burned. When I say burned, I mean charred black to a crisp. It looked like a giant piece of black coal. One of the pastas was fettuccini Alfredo. My son, who had ordered it, said that it had no cheese and almost no flavor. I didn't believe him so I tried it. He was right. It must have been made with milk, flour and a little butter, but absolutely no cheese, no salt, and no other flavorings. It tasted awful. I couldn't eat a full forkful. The last plate was the final saving grace. I ordered the stuffed shells. It was fine. Not fantastic, nor even great, but it was by far the best thing on our table. Maybe we just picked the wrong things. I hope so. But our dining experience was not quite even mediocre.

2  Thank Kim T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2013

I was referred to this establishment by the motel concierge here in Utica who advised she went there with her family all the time and it was old school. Her great grandfather was a printer and actually made their menus back in 1942 or so when it all began. When I arrived, I thought it was would be quite high priced from the sea of white table clothes, cavernous ceilings and tasteful wall adornments, including a large photo of a tree overlooking the sea - underneath such photo of which were strong white fluorescent lights. Now I had planned on writing a scathing negative review but I waited, as one should in this life, for all the evidence to unfold. The review was to rant about how a rude, pompous family next to me spent the better part of an hour and a half arguing. I sat right next to them and they were impervious. The son wanted to earn money as a DJ, the father challenged his questionable career choices, the daughter attacked the father for his making the son (who had earned straight A's) cry and the mother? Well the mother sat silently by and endured the battle of words between the daughter and the father droned on and on -- at first, it was mildly interesting but then after the hours passed, it was a broken record and the inanity of the familial squabble became too much. I literally could not even focus on eating - it was indeed that bad. Particularly aggravating was the daughter disrespecting her father by pompously telling him how should act and then even more aggravating was his rudely telling her off and he would do what he wanted to do. What neither of them wanted to, apparently, was shut up and let people eat in peace. The Establishment did nothing to tell them to put a sock in it. Finally, rather than get up and leave, I asked to be moved and was graciously moved to a quiet part of the old restaurant. Still, to make a point, the bickering family spoke with the owner Mr. Ventura outside within earshot of my new table, engaging in more drunken slurring - no doubt to prove to me there was no place on earth I could move from their petty yammering. But they were wrong, There was a place. The place was the People Garden that is Ventura's. Was the food good? Well, yes it was good but not quite the jarring feast for the senses of Casa Bela Mia but here, what amazed me was after all of the inconvenience and after my having endured these people literally bickering in loud tones for an intolerable amount of time, the owner never came over to me. He never apologized, He never explained. He never offered to remove a Coke off the bill or encourage me that these people were simply drunk - which they were. He did however lavish them with attention outside - apparently they were repeat customers and a better investment of time. Instead, my waitress was an angel to me. I wish her the happiest life with her son - and a son it will be! Even the Bosnian fellow Muhammed behind the bar was engaging and fascinating to talk to and assuredly must ensure I get that website for travel airfares! My waitress could not have been kinder - she moved all the dishes I'd been eating over to my new table. She engaged me in good natured banter. She spoke proudly of her soon-to-born child - who will be the owner's grandchild because she was married to the cook, who is the son of Mr. Ventura. And she and Muhammed, each in their own open, innocent and convivial way, lightened what had become an aggravating evening of being subjected to the sheer stupidity of a family to rude to behave themselves in a public restaurant. Now when I left, Mr. Ventura would have let me leave without the slightest word but I approached Mr. Ventura and I instead explained to him that I had come to realize that these people were having a bad night and I had put it in perspective. We passed kind words and I promised to write a good review on Trip Advisor. I realized that it was not that he could care less about me or that he didn't wish to afford me any consolation - it was because frankly he was embarrassed about these drunken hooligans. His best offer of solace was when he smiled and said "what can you do?" Well, I can tell you what you can do. Instead of favoring and catering to the people that ruined my evening, perhaps you could afford the diner whose evening was disturbed something - anything - as a token of appreciation for his not having gotten up and left. Thankfully, I forgave him this faux pas because he, his wonderful angel of a waitress, the Bosnian barkeep and no doubt many people over the years and years of 1942 have worked hard and long to keep this place going and have given many people great memories - my sensitivity to the rudeness of the oafs cannot detract from the fact that Mr. Ventura loves not simply his restaurant, his family, not simply his proud town of Utica but no doubt his regular diners and those that struggle to make the restaurant work well each day. So no matter that I felt slightly miffed without the free mint offer or perhaps an apology or explanation because it really did not matter. I was from out of town so why be concerned? What mattered is you go into the place, you go into a People Garden and a home for people to eat - not simply another joint slinging hash. What did I order? The Irish Coffee was rather tepid, the garlic bread was quite good, the veal parm was a solid offering and well made and the spaghetti was eh. It was not the food that would have me come back here - it was the people that ran the place for Mr. Ventura. I hope the cavepeople that sat next to me read this and learn in the future, it's not about you. I just read my review and realized it was not about me. Mr. Ventura knew all along it was not about me. Dine with noise, afterall, and you know you are alive. Who wants to eat in a morgue?

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4  Thank VikeSavoth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 June 2013

The food is tasty Italian-American, not Italian portions -- oversized for the American taste. But if you like an old-fashioned restaurant that has good food, a decent wine list, a friendly staff and signed photos of Yogi Berra, Carmen Basilio and Joe DiMaggio on the walls, then this is the place for you. There are fewer and fewer of these classic pieces of Americana around so if you the chance, enjoy. Prices are quite reasonable & the cappucini are served well after 11:00 a.m.! It's a treat. Great atmosphere & very congenial owner.

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Thank RonL40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 May 2013 via mobile

Good place for generous portions of classic restaurant - style Italian food, but the atmosphere is the most memorable part. Interior looks like it's expecting Sinatra, Garrigiola or Skowron to come in at any minute. Owner sincerely pleased we'd dined there. Fun browsing the celebrity photos & listening to nearby table of locals having a great time.

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1  Thank rcamero1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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