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19.5.2024 | Restaurants

A taste of Italy in Tartu

The popular La Dolce Vita restaurant has been open since 2003.
Text Mark Taylor
Photo Danilo Venturini

A taste of Italy in TartuThe curved arches of the ceiling saved the restaurant from damage after a fire on the floors above.

 

For those looking for great Italian food in Tartu, the answer for more than 20 years has been La Dolce Vita. However, but for a chance meeting of two Italians on a beach in Pärnu in 1999, it may never have existed.

As co-founder Danilo Venturini explains. “I came to visit Estonia with friends. In Pärnu, on the beach, we randomly met two other Italians, one of whom is now my partner in this business (Rene’ Faoro). He had a girlfriend who lived in Tartu. So, six months to a year later I came to Tartu. Together we started to look around and there was nowhere to eat real Italian food. It is then that we started to develop the idea and look for a place. We wanted to be the first in Tartu.”

And, they were the first, opening their doors in 2003, before Estonia joined the European Union. However, at this time, Estonian’s knowledge of Italian food was not so good as Venturini reminisces. “I remember somebody being disappointed that a calzone was not a regular pizza, and others that the meat in carpacccio was raw.”

Despite this, the restaurant was a success from the beginning, attracting more than 70 customers on the very first day, without any advertising. A key part to the restaurant’s enduring success over the following 20 years has been its regular customers, who have now also made the carpacccio one of the most popular dishes on the menu.

“We have many regular customers, some that come as much as 20 times a month. We also have many clients from Finland and Latvia,” Venturini adds.

But you don’t get so many regular customers without good food. A key part of that being many of the ingredients are imported directly from Italy, such as flour, pasta, cheese, ham, salami, and olive oil. However, good food is not enough, service is also key, with Venturini stating that “the customer is always right”.

To put this success into perspective, they are set to win the “special experience” award for a third year in a row with delivery service Wolt. Something unusual for a restaurant not in Tallinn.

As well as the popular regular menu, they also offer daily lunch specials on weekdays, two pasta dishes, and two pizzas, one of each being a vegetarian option. These daily offers, which change every day, are priced at just 7 euros.

The restaurant is open from 11:30 am to 11 pm Monday to Thursday, from 11:30 am to Midnight on Friday and Saturday, and from 12 noon to 11 pm on Sundays

 

La Dolce Vita, Kompanii 10, Tartu

To learn more about this and similar topics
Authentic Italian Cuisine Italian Food Italian Restaurant Tartu La Dolce Vita La Dolce Vita Tartu Restaurant Tartu Tartu

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