Chew On It
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By Andrew Kochirka GoErie.com staff blogger
Food has been an integral part of Andrew's life from a young age; from cooking with his mother and grandmother to creating recipes in his own kitchen. Now he scours the area's non-chain restaurant scene to find the best of the best of local food from chicken wings to French cuisine.   Read more about this blog.
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Venango Valley Inn

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The original clubhouse located at 21217 U.S. 19 is home to the charming and cozy Venango Valley Inn & Golf Course. Whitney and Justin Catalano met me and Amanda there just after six on Tuesday night. Although there was a storm coming through the area, the course was full of golfers and, after the thunder started, so were the dining rooms. The dinner menu has an Italian section full of pasta dishes as well as a few others placed throughout the menu. Our server, Donna, explained the specials to us and got us drinks. We all decided on a different pasta dish and placed our orders.

venango-valley_lasagnaWhitney chose the homemade baked lasagna. Pasta sheets were layered with ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and provolone all with Venango Valley’s homemade meat sauce. The thick layers of cheese were creamy and rich. The sauce featured chunks of tomato and ground meat and it was very well seasoned. The lasagna had just the right amount of acidity and sweetness to balance out the creaminess of the cheese. The edges of the noodles were slightly crunchy from being baked in the oven, which gave it just a bit of texture.

venango-valley_crab-cake-alfredoJustin opted for the linguine Alfredo. A bowl of slightly overcooked linguine was topped with a rich Alfredo sauce comprised of butter, cream, and Parmesan. You have the choice of ordering the pasta by itself or topping it with chicken, crab cakes, or shrimp. Justin chose the crab cakes. They were light, had great crab flavor and lots of texture. It was clear that the seafood was the focus of the cakes, not like others I’ve had where the crab is overpowered by spices and breading. While the crab cakes were fantastic, the dish needed to be seasoned more overall. The Alfredo sauce was very thick and heavy and completely drowned the pasta. Even though it’s a sauce based with butter and cream, I’ve had Alfredo that was lightweight and very flavorful. This version, however, missed the mark. Less sauce and more salt would have made this dish much better.

venango-valley_chicken-parmAmanda ordered the Chicken Parmigiana. A chicken breast was pounded thin, breaded, pan-fried to a golden brown, and was finished in the oven topped with a slice of cheese. The chicken rested atop of a layer of spaghetti coated in their house meat sauce. The hot, bubbly cheese blanketed the chicken beautifully and added just the right amount of saltiness. The pasta was cooked just beyond al dente, but still had good flavor. Some of the edges of the chicken were a little burnt, but it wasn’t so bad that the dish was inedible.

venango-valley_tenderloin-di-veronaI chose the Tenderloin Di Verona. Grilled choice tenderloin tips, bacon crumbles, fresh sautéed mushrooms, and roasted red peppers topped a black pepper linguine and everything was tossed with smoked Gouda cream sauce. I ordered the beef medium rare, but it was cooked to medium well. After tasting it, however, I didn’t mind as much because the flavor was quite good and the beef was still tender. The mushrooms and peppers added a sweet and savory depth and balance to the dish. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the sauce was velvety and rich with fantastic cheesy flavor. The bacon added a bit of smokiness and just a hint of salt, but, like the Alfredo, it needed more seasoning.

Overall, the meal was delicious and very affordable. The number for information and reservations is 814-398-4330. Their summer hours are Monday – Saturday from 11:00am to 9:00pm and Sunday from 11:00am to 7:00pm.

Today starts the 23rd Annual Erie’s Wild Rib Cook Off and Music Festival. May 29 through June 1, 2013, Perry Square in downtown Erie will play host to eight national touring BBQ teams. This year will also feature a pin-up contest, a car cruise, and a ladies night. The times are Wednesday and Thursday from 11am – 10pm and Friday and Saturday from 11am – 11pm.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite pasta and noodle dishes to akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Venango Valley Inn & Golf Course on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Pasta and Noodles
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