Via Italia – a traditional Italian trattoria
SUN PHOTO/CHANTELLE LEWIN
Owners Marlene and Mike McGowan
and Manager Lynn Johnson show the restaurant’s awards.
In Italian cities there’s a trattoria on practically every corner – petite, intimate eateries with good quality food and plenty of it at reasonable prices. When Mike McGowan opened Via Italia his goal was to replicate the casual low key experience of an Italian trattoria, a goal he has happily reached.
McGowan has lived in Florida for 30 years migrating from the New York City region to work as a golf pro in Florida’s 12 -month golfing climate. Along the way, he also worked in a variety of restaurants learning the business from some of the top chefs in the area.
When he had the opportunity to open his own restaurant, he and his wife, Marlene McGowan, fashioned a traditional Italian trattoria menu, even using some of her family’s recipes. Their menu includes pasta dishes ranging from linguine with seafood to ravioli with spinach, as well as fish, shrimp, chicken and veal entrees. Start the meal with fried calamari or a caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and end it with Via Italia’s award winning tiramisu, or call ahead and order your favorite dish to go.
Via Italia’s excellence has been recognized by winning five awards from the Taste of Manatee including Best Of The Best and Best Dessert for its tiramisu. And if there was an award for best manager, server and all around restaurant person it would go to Lynn Johnson attracting repeat customers who, as McGowan says, just want to come in and see her.
Unlike an Italian Trattoria where house wine by the jug is usually served, Via Italia has a very extensive selection of wine prominently displayed on the wall separating the restaurant from the bar. In addition, its signature dinner special is dinner for two including an appetizer, choice of soup or salad, entrée, Tiramisu for dessert and a select bottle of either red or white wine for $59.95 for two. On Valentine’s Day there with be additional specials as well as roses for the ladies.
Mike McGowan says he, his wife and their staff all do the best they can to make their customers happy with a combination of good quality and great service. McGowan likes to call Via Italia an Italian pub, which like life, is a work in progress. Whether you call Via Italia a restaurant, trattoria or pub, the one thing you will definitely call it is Italian in the best tradition.
Via Italia Ristorante Italiano6777 Manatee Ave.W., Bradenton
Monday through Saturday
5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
American Express, Visa and MasterCard