Escape into good Italian food at Victoria’s

Ray Feller

Victoria’s advertises itself as an “escape from cooking.” Such a modest claim says very little of the escape they promise their guests. While any restaurant can be an escape from cooking, when my date and I arrived we discovered that Victoria’s is also an escape from tension, from school, from the busy sounds of College Ave., and from any food that is not exceptional.
While currently the outside of Victoria’s is less than impressive (it appears to be under construction, much like the street in front of it), the inside is an entirely different story. The dining room is dimly lit, with a romantic electronic candle lighting each table individually. The walls are covered in colorful and pleasant paintings, and the sounds of Italian singing accompany the chatter from the couples and groups enjoying their dinners.
Each table is adorned with a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.something very different from the Kraft kind that does not require refrigeration. All meals are accompanied by freshly baked garlic bread and soft rolls, which come with real butter.
Victoria’s waitstaff, while not Italian (in fact, much of it is Mexican) is genuinely considerate. Our waiter, a jolly man named Marco, was happily floating between each of his tables. He offered advice on food, yes, but we could also overhear him speaking to guests about a barrage of topics. He was an enjoyable waiter because he did not only perform the usual duties of a waiter, but went beyond and provided a one-hour friendship to accompany the tasty dishes.
Victoria’s has an extensive menu, divided into many categories: appetizers, sides, salads, tomato sauce pastas, cream sauce pastas, Italian specialties, Sicilian specialties, steaks, “pasta parade,” seafood, pizza, desserts, and drinks. If this is overwhelming in a list, then the menu itself will be quite intimidating-even within the category of “cream sauce pastas” there are twenty options.
Luckily, Marco was happy to assist my date and me in making some good choices, and it appeared as if he was helping others around the restaurant as well.
Appetizers cost between $3.95 and $5.95, offering everything from traditional Italian antipastos to Wisconsin cheese curds. Upon Marco’s recommendation, we experimented with the “steamed mussels” ($5.95). These came in a delicious cream-based sauce, and even though I can’t say that mussels are a favorite of mine, they were far from unpleasant. This dish was an ideal appetizer because it somehow made us even hungrier for our main course (as perhaps appetizers should).
Victoria’s also offers several salads, each of which is priced $3.95 for one or $6.95 for two. We opted to skip the salad, although the extensive list of salads looked tasty, and those delivered to nearby tables appeared awfully tempting.
The number of choices for entrees is both enormous and reasonably priced. All of the entrees cost between $7.95 and $15.95 except for one, an impressive seafood combination that costs $20.00.
Marco recommended we peruse the page of cream sauce pastas. On both sauce pasta pages, diners can choose to have just pasta and sauce ($7.95) or can add chicken ($9.95), pork tenderloin ($10.95), veal ($13.95), or shrimp ($15.95).
My date and I settled on the shrimp in Saltivoka sauce. The shrimp was sauted with butter, garlic, shitake and white cap mushrooms, and green peppercorn in a cream and brandy sauce, served over fettuccine.
This dish was incredibly rich and wonderfully combined the flavors in the sauce. Despite our decision to share an entree, the two of us had difficulty finishing the entire serving.
My date and I decided to complete the meal with a dessert. We chose the tiramisu, which is lady finger cookies dipped in espresso coffee and topped with cream of mascarpone ($4.95). All of the desserts ranged from $2.95 to $4.95, and based on the pictures that decorated the tables, these were all desirable desserts.
Even though our stomachs were full to a point where we were concerned that our walk down College Ave. would be more of a roll, we managed to eat most of the tiramisu. It tasted fantastically rich, and came decorated with swirls of chocolate syrup and a thick whipped cream.
Victoria’s also offers several side dishes from $2 to $3, coffee drinks from $1.75 to $3.95, specialty drinks from $3 to $5, and ice cream drinks at $3.95 a piece.
Victoria’s is surely as classy a restaurant as one can find on College Ave. Within walking distance from the school, and with reasonably priced dishes that can easily be shared, it is an economical as well as delicious evening escape from campus.