The first thing that’s noticeable about the new Pizzeria Venti Restaurant is how much the décor changed from when it Pizzeria Venti was Anthony’s Ristorante. The interior walls have been removed and large windows line the walls. It’s now bright, light and airy. As I walked up to the friendly faces behind the counter I couldn’t help but admire the large yummy-looking trays of pizza and the decadent Gelato all lined up on display. But what really blew me away are the prices. With pasta dishes like manicotti priced at under $9.00 and their famous Bocce Balls (Italian meatballs, cheese and marinara wrapped in a crust) at just $5.00, two people can easily eat here and get full for under twenty dollars.
So, I was already impressed at first glance and then I had the privilege of meeting Pizzeria Venti’s owner Frank Shaffer, and his inspiring story impressed me even more. First off, Frank doesn’t have a restaurant background. “I always had the idea of a small Italian restaurant,” said Frank. “I never did anything about it. I came across (franchiser) Venti Corp. and fell in love with it. From the personal attention I received from the president of Venti Corp, to our trips to other Pizza Venti restaurants to taste the food, I was thrilled. I couldn’t find a fault with it.”
But just as Frank and his wife (and restaurant co-owner) Diane were signing the Venti Corp contracts, tragedy struck. Frank was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain and liver. He could have easily walked away from the restaurant dream but he didn’t. “I thought about it and I felt that giving up on the idea was like throwing the towel in and saying you got me.” Frank is a man of courage and strength that would inspire anyone.
As Pizza Venti got underway, Frank started his battle fighting for his life and managed to stabilize the cancer with radiation and chemo. He’s definitely not in the clear yet, so in the mornings Diane holds down the fort at the restaurant while Frank undergoes treatment. He then comes in to work for the rest of the day. He’s tired sometimes, but he does it because he absolutely loves owning a restaurant and making his customers happy. “It’s like dining with family every night. I walk around, talk to every table and I’ve made a lot of friends since we started.”
Even though Pizza Venti is a franchise, the individual restaurant owners are free to run it the way they want. “I can come up with my own food,” said Frank. “I can buy whatever I want, where ever I want. I can buy locally – and I do my best to buy local produce whenever possible.” Recipes come directly from Tuscany and franchisees train in Tuscany as well, and you definitely taste the difference in both the flavor in the food. If you’re looking for a traditional round pizza, then there are other fabulous places in town for that. But if you want to enjoy Rustic Pan Pizza with a homemade crust made from imported water, then this is the right place for you. Their out-of-this-world cheese tops off the perfect pizza pie and actually the cost is more than two times that of “typical” pizza cheeses. Everyone says they use top quality ingredients,” says Frank. “But we really do and nothing is fried. There are no trans fats here.” The result is food that’s absolutely the best with a real taste of old world Tuscany. You of course have to try the famous pizzas but the pasta dishes are also really popular.
There’s also a full selection of salads, soups and appetizers. Oh and let’s not forget the dessert. There’s the Gelato that caught my eye when I first walked in. For those who don’t know, Gelato is typically richer and creamier than ice cream, and right now they have six decadent flavors to choose from. I went for the Spumoni and yes it was absolutely delish. They also have Italian Cannoli and pastries , so if you try to save some room for dessert you won’t be disappointed.
And if Pizzeria Venti’s everyday low prices weren’t enough, Frank and Diane are also running a couple of spectacular specials right now. Every Wednesday from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm is a family night dinner for four people. Twenty dollars gets you unlimited salad for four, a cheese, pepperoni or sausage pan pizza, and four sodas with free refills. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm they hold Italian Happy Hour where you can get $1 bottles of domestic beer and $3 glasses of wine with all appetizers just $5. And stay tuned. Frank is planning another special for Sundays but he’s not ready to share just yet. Keep an eye out because you know it’s going to feature delicious food at amazingly affordable prices. Come out and say hi to a truly wonderful family, that will make you feel like a part of there own. Frank – thank you for being a source of courage and inspiration.
Pizzeria Venti, 40335 Winchester Rd, Suite K, Temecula, CA 92593
Open Monday – Sunday 11 am to 9 pm. 951 296-0720 pizzeriaventi-temecula.com
We give you two great ways to check out Pizzeria Venti! You can get our Daily Pairing Deal here www.dailypairing.net
And you can join us for the meet-up there Wednesday June 29th at 12 noon. $10 dollars will get you pizza, pasta and more! More details here http://www.meetup.com/totlunchmeetandgreet/