The Scene

Serving pasta with a side of romance at Villa Verone in Geneva

Slow down and savor the spaghetti.

That’s the advice of Pietro Verone, owner of Villa Verone Ristorante Italiano in Geneva. If it feels as though the days are rushing past and the holidays on the horizon cause an uptick in blood pressure, it’s time to make a date with someone special and let Verone’s staff serve up a dose of romance.

Stepping inside the more than 100-year-old former home nestled in downtown Geneva, it’s easy to see how Verone has created the intimate settings of each dining nook. It’s the perfect place to re-connect with the one you love over a plate of fresh pasta, he added.

Verone opened the Geneva restaurant in 1996 on what he called his “five-year plan” and today he is going on year 28 of serving up the recipes he learned from his mother.

“I can’t stop. I love what I do,” Verone said.

Verone was 18 when he and his parents left their small town outside of Naples, Italy and made their way to join some of his father’s relatives in Chicago. It wasn’t long before Verone found his way into a restaurant kitchen and before long opened his first restaurant in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

While he started his restaurant career in the kitchen, today Verone prefers to be up front to greet his guests, welcome back returning customers and help them navigate the menu he’s designed, based from recipes he knows and what his customers have told him they love.

“I like to stick to the traditional stuff because that’s what I know,” Verone said.

Among some top choices are the cavatelli casarecci which features small dumplings with chicken and mushrooms in a tomato cream sauce and there’s the pappardelle paradiso is a creation of tri-colored long, thick pasta served with chicken and roasted garlic in a goat-cheese sauce. There’s pollo and salmon Vesuvio or consider the pollo gorgonzolo served rich gorgonzola cheese.

“We still use my mother’s recipes,” he added.

And the homemade desserts are so good, sharing may pose a challenge.

In the spirit of romance, consider the Fixed Price Special where, for $120, two people can choose an appetizer, two entrees, one dessert and one bottle of wine to share. Verone said it used to be a menu special, but it became so popular he decided to keep it on the menu daily.

Verone said he loves how the restaurant is housed in the historic home, with the small rooms he creates an intimate dining experience and that’s optimal for conversations and catching up with fellow diners.

“It’s not one big room, but lots of different little rooms,” Verone said. “If you are looking to be romantic, it can be hard sitting in one big dining room. Here you have little nooks with each room having just three or four tables. It’s a different kind of place.”