Venice on Vine; Good Food for a Good Cause

I discovered one of the BEST restaurants in Greater Cincinnati last night. Every bit of food INCREDIBLE, the staff was amazing, the decor was inviting and best of all… it is all for a great cause. Venice on Vine is owned by Powered Inspires Progress, a nonprofit, which provides paid training in a supportive work environment with high expectations and varied experience.

So here is how it works…Venice on Vine, which is a traditional restaurant that also provides catering, hires people who are considered at-risk to hire. They might not have a high school education or maybe they spent time in jail or they might be fresh out of rehab… whatever the reason, they are having a hard time securing employment. So they start working at the restaurant as a dishwasher. They gradually move up to different positions like cook, bus boy, server and cashier. During this time they learn how to follow a recipe, as well as other instructions, improve their math skills by doubling or tripling a recipe, to clean well, interact with others, keep their cool dealing with the public, develop interpersonal and communication skills, how to cater an event and working a cash register. They work at the restaurant 22 hours a week for one year. During that time, community volunteers work with them to develop computer skills, craft a resume, practice interviewing and work on getting their GED or any other piece of education they need. All employees must pass a drug test.

PIP empowers trainees to further their education, providing instruction in basic life skills and paid job-training. Pretty amazing!

So when I heard this story I had to wonder how the food would taste. Would it be frozen pizza? Bagged salad? NOPE! There was nothing store-bought about this meal! All of the sauces, dressings and desserts were homemade. I started with a delicious green salad that had fresh fruit, almond slivers and feta with a homemade raspberry dressing. I was in heaven!
Next I had the Vegan African Stew. I was reluctant to try this but am so glad I did. I seriously could have licked the bowl clean. It was the perfect combination of spicy and sweet.
The chicken Marsala was next. The mushrooms soaked in the homemade wine sauce made this dish!

I enjoyed the deluctable chicken alfredo pizza. It was so cheesy. The crust was perfect. The sauce was delish. Oh yum!
Dinner wouldn’t be complete without dessert though. I went for a piece of carrot cake and the apple cake with caramel drizzle. Both were to die for but I have to say I haven’t stopped thinking about that carrot cake since the first bite. I already told my boyfriend that I want carrot cake from Venice on Vine for my birthday (yes, they have carryout).
apple cake carrot cake


I had the opportunity to try a combination of the restaurant and catering menus last night. You can view both menus on the website.


There are a lot of great restaurants in the Greater Cincinnati area. Shoot, there are a lot of great restaurants on Vine Street in Over the Rhine. But there aren’t a lot of great restaurants that operate as a non profit, higher people who otherwise probably couldn’t get a job or train their employees to help them find a better job. So the next time you are heading out to dinner or hiring a caterer, try Venice on Vine. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it and you’ll be helping out a great cause.

Have you been to Venice on Vine? What did you think?

P.S. Check us out on Facebook.

Dinner Adventure

Jessica, one of my best friends, her 13-year-old daughter Alexis and I decided to have dinner out the other night (my children were with their dad). I told them via text I was in the mood for Rio Grande, a local Mexican restaurant. Alexis responded saying she didn’t want Mexican because she had it the night before. I suggested Applebee’s, Barleycorn’s, anywhere at Newport On The Levee, the Elusive Cow or Asian food. Her response was “ewe.”

I asked her to suggest something that wasn’t pizza because I had it the night before for dinner and that day for lunch. Her response “Gahh. I like pizza.” I told her she could get pizza any where. After about a dozen text messages, she suggested Bar Louie in Newport. I thought “perfect, she can get pizza there and I can get Mexican if I want or something else delicious.” While at dinner, Alexis mentioned she really wanted Dewey’s Pizza. I told her she should have spoken up because I could have gotten a salad there but oh well… we were at a place we had agreed on.

So it’s time to order… This is what Alexis (who did not want Mexican ordered):

Chicken Quesidilla

Chicken Quesadilla

Yes, that is a chicken quesadilla with salsa, sour cream and guacamole!  I did ask her over dinner where she had Mexican from the night before. She said Taco Bell. WHAT!?! Taco Bell is not really Mexican.

Here is what Jessica and I decided to share:

Buffalo chicken flatbread

Buffalo chicken flatbread

As Alexis pointed out to me, that is kind of like pizza. Ha Ha.

Since it was National Margarita Day, Jess and I decided we must have a margarita or two.



The server called it a skinny margarita but she didn’t mention the cost and of course it wasn’t on the menu.

receiptIf you look closely at the receipt you will see that our four margaritas cost us $40! This made our bill about $75 with tip. We were very shocked that dinner for three with only four drinks cost this much! We decided that the skinny margarita was not skinny on the wallet and we needed to get every last drop out of it.

Getting every last drop!

Getting every last drop!

At Rio Grande, Jess and I would have split the $12 fajitas and four margaritas for about $15. Alexis would have had an $8 dinner making our bill about $40 with tip and I would have fulfilled my craving for Mexican.

Lesson learned… Just tell the kid you are going to eat where you want because she doesn’t really know what she wants any way. Ha Ha. Other lesson learned… Ask how much drinks are before you order them!

How does your family decide where to eat when going out? Have you ever been shocked by the bill?