Restaurant Review: Touch of Venice Brings Italy to Cutchogue

Cold seafood bruschetta.
Cold seafood bruschetta. Photo credit: Genevieve Horsburgh

Refined rustic Italian is the term I would apply to the cuisine at Touch of Venice Restaurant in Cutchogue, and the décor is decidedly European with beautiful vintage touches. I loved the old photographs and posters hanging on the wall, and the new glass-enclosed, climate controlled wine room is a sight to see. The location also boasts spectacular outdoor seating for those perfect summer and fall evenings.

On this particular late summer evening, we opted to dine inside to get the the full view of the renovated space. We started off with a glass of wine each—an Italian pinot grigio for me and a Peconic Bay rosé for my dining partner. Both were light and crisp and complemented our forthcoming meal perfectly. A true Italian restaurant in the heart of Long Island wine country, Touch of Venice offers a variety of local and Italian wines by the glass and bottle.

The breadbasket came with spreadable sides—a tomato and roasted pepper salsa of sorts, which was bright and flavorful and a basil pesto with pine nuts that was fresh and herbaceous. We started with an appetizer special, the burrata cheese platter, served with slabs of grilled, crusty Italian bread, alongside cured olives, sun-dried tomatoes, preserved lemon, roasted garlic and pickled cherry peppers. My favorite bite was the creamy burrata lathered on bread with sweet roasted garlic. The preserved lemon added a great pop of flavor paired with the mellow burrata.

We next tried a peach and prosciutto salad, which consisted of local sweet peaches from Wickham’s Farms wrapped in salty prosciutto and topped with this amazing feta goat cheese from Catapano Farms. The dish was finished with a drizzle of white balsamic and peach dressing. I love the fact that they are using local ingredients when possible, and you can taste the invigorating freshness of products grown right here Now I need to visit Catapano Farms to get my hands on that delectable Feta goat cheese…

Next came an appetizer of epic proportions—the cold seafood bruschetta. It’s a feast for the eyes, with jumbo whole shrimp, clams, mussels, tender scallops and calamari, all tossed together in a salsa verde and served with their signature grilled Tuscan bread. The seafood was complemented nicely by the fresh green salsa, and I used my bread to soak up as much of it as I could!

Then we had a salad of mixed greens and peppers topped with polenta-dusted calamari and a tangy vinaigrette made with citrus juices and truffle oil. The calamari was perfectly cooked, and the taste of the truffle oil took over my taste buds with one bite—heavenly.

Up next were our chosen pasta courses—first, the garganelli pasta cooked with sautéed broccoli rabe, spicy Berkshire pork sausage and sundried tomatoes. garganelli is similar to penne, but for the visible “flap” where a corner of the pasta sticks to the outside. We also sampled the tagliatelle pasta, sautéed with succulent shrimp, scallops, those yummy preserved lemons, olives, capers and mushrooms. Served with a light sauce of extra virgin olive oil, this pasta dish made my taste buds dance in celebration.

The chicken briano entrée was reminiscent of chicken francese, but kicked up a few notches to include prosciutto, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, tender asparagus, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes over capellini. We loved it. A house favorite, the veal rollatini, was so rich and comforting my toes wiggled with pleasure. Thin slices of veal are rolled with prosciutto, mozzarella and pecorino cheeses, and topped with a delectable porcini marsala wine sauce, accompanied by a delightful rice ball. The fried rice ball was full of risotto rice, chives and pancetta—so delicious, I only wish there were more!

No meal is complete without dessert, and so we tried the special of the night, a mixed berry bowl topped with an almond crumble and a scoop of vanilla gelato. There were so many berries to choose from—strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries—all married together in a sweet, syrupy sauce. We also tried the chocolate sorbetti, which was wonderfully chocolaty, served with a pizzelle, which is a thin, crispy Italian wafer cookie.

Touch of Venice is owned and operated by the Pennacchia family, and has been in the family for more than 20 years. Lunch and dinner is served from noon Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday.

Touch of Venice, 28350 Main Road, Cutchogue. 631-298-5851,

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