Eating plant-based at VgOloso
Have I already told you it's been an intense year of blogging for me? I'm sure I have and, of the many nice things that have been happening to me, the best ones always revolved around people. So it happened that a short while ago I made a new American friend, a girl who has been living in Mestre for some years that one day decided to write me through the website and took a bus to Venice to have coffee with me. How happy I am she did, especially because she's a green foodie and wanted to introduce me to her favourite restaurant, only a few minutes from her house: VgOloso.
VgOoloso is a super cute plant-based and organic eatery located in Viale Ancona, reachable with a 15 minute bus ride from P.le Roma (bus 43), very close to the Laguna Palace Hotel. I hadn't been in that area for ages and I have to say I actually found it quite nice. There's a canal with docks all along, the former warehouses are now fancy apartments overlooking the water, there is a school just across the road, a weekly farmers market and (first thing I noticed) there is also a huge NaturaSi supermarket!
VgOloso offers both indoor and outdoor seating and the ambience, in general, is minimal, simple and elegant all at the same time. The terrace outside is quite long, with bright white tables and small plants placed everywhere, but we chose to stay inside so we could watch the kitchen staff at work! The interior has a nice homey feel, everything is made with recycled wood or bambu (also the chairs, which were made with the shape of the VgOloso logo) by the couple Andrea Bozzo and Luisa Boschi of the architecture and design Studio Bobo. In addition to being talented architects and designers, Andrea and Luisa live in the neighbourhood and are friends of the owner, Tommaso.
Tommaso has worked very hard to create this space, he told me he has been involved in many social and green activities focused on food for many years and that the restaurant is the latest experiment. Thanks to his strong sensitivity towards the environment and his attention to the recovery of forgotten ingredients, during his journey he met other people like him and started collaborating with some farmers and small organic producers, who have developed a line of gluten free pastas, herbal infusions, beer and -going beyond food- 100% natural clothes, shoes and cosmetics! I was seriously impressed, especially because Tommaso was sharing all this information with me without showing off, as if it was the most normal thing on earth.
Anyway, let's get down to the food. The menu changes with the season and it is all very inviting! There is a paper menu on every table, but the dishes are also written on two big blackboards placed on the walls. In fact, that's my friend pointing out to me her favourite choices, although -just like me- she was feeling undecided too! She had come with another friend of hers, so we decided to get a few things and share. We started with two seasonal salads with spring cabbage, fennel, lettuce, white quinoa and pumpkin seeds and some sautéed chards. The salad was served in a vase, dressed with cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, so we had to toss it a little and then serve it on a plate. Let me say it was lovely: fresh, light and delicate, perfect as a starter. The chards too were very tasty and I particularly appreciated that they were still a little crispy.
Then we continued with some homemade wholewheat tortelli stuffed with spinach and ricotta and dressed with tomato sauce and some veg dumplings in tomato sauce. Starting from the tortelli... wow, I was impressed! The pasta was thin and the filling delicious, but the tomato sauce was a real explosion of flavour. With regard to my dumplings, I think I've never had anything as good. I say dumplings, but they were actually polpette al sugo, which are traditionally made with ground meat (meatballs in tomato sauce). Obviously, these polpette were vegan and were made with wild red rice, chickpeas, hazelnut and the above mentioned tomato sauce. OMG, they were so tender that they literally melted in my mouth and the generous dose of tomato sauce made them even better. They usually serve them with pink polenta (you know, I've never had pink polenta and am extremely curious now), but they had finished it, so they brought me some roast potatoes instead. With potatoes it's practically impossible to get it wrong and, as I had imagined, they were delicious.
Sorry to disappoint you, but we drank some plain water and a fruit juice. The freshly squeezed juices are made exclusively with seasonal produce, but our friend was in the mood for pomegranate (a more wintery fruit), and opted for the organic juice. Then we had a closer look at the products for sale and my friend decided to get a little present for her husband and bought him a bottle of turmeric beer, while I got a natural face cream (hey, I enjoy taking good care of myself and want to look and feel good!). With regard to the prices, allow me say I thought they were excellent. Starters and first courses are around 7 euros, second courses around 8 and the most expensive desserts costs 4 euros. Really brilliant, especially if we think of all the hard work behind those ingredients and the quality of what we get.
I should also mention that the bread, the focaccia and the pizza are homemade with quality flours and sourdough, thus easy to digest and ideal for people that, just like me, tend to have problems with yeasted foods. Overall, I really liked the place and am planning to go back with my husband next week, maybe at the weekend, and I would also like to bring a couple of friends who have switched to a plant-based diet and never know where to go for an original and tasty meal. In fact, as you know I'm still omnivorous but -especially at home- I follow a mainly plant-based diet and am very curious to try all these new places because I get to try NEW recipes and get a lot of inspiration. Hopefully, I'll get Tommaso to share the polpette recipe with me, so I can try to make them at home and, in turn, share the procedure with you!
I'll say goodbye for now, but stay tuned because next week I'll be visiting Torcello and want to tell you all about it! Happy weekend friends and talk to you soon!
VgOoloso Address: Viale Ancona 10 a, 30172 Mestre Phone: +39 041 3095669
To get there: bus 43 from Venice leaving at 20' past and 50' past every hour Get off in Via Torino (ask the driver to leave you after the NaturaSi supermarket, in front of Toyota reseller)