With Over 30 Years in the Biz, Old Venice Keeps Serving Palate Pleasers
Written By: Ashlee Polarek
Photographed By: Alicia Cho Old Venice
Next time you feel like escaping to the islands of Greece or the historic sights of Italy, look no further than Old Venice in Manhattan Beach. This unique family owned restaurant has been around for over three decades. Established in 1984 by Jimmy Hantzarides and his wife Julie, the restaurant quickly became a town favorite, however, it was destroyed in a tragic fire in 2006. It has since been rebuilt by current Chef and Owner Andrew and Natalie Hantzarides, the children of Jimmy and Julie, and is as charming and successful as ever. Just a block up from the beach, the Greek and Italian-inspired decor whisks you away to faraway lands of delicious and inspired cooking.
The Seafood Linguini is a must try dish at Old Venice. This heavenly dish is served in a massive pearlescent seashell that catches the attention of all the other restaurant goers. The Seafood Linguini can feed one to two people if you’re willing to share. Brought to you in the giant shell, this dish is definitely Instagram-worthy.
Q&A With Chef Andrew Hantzarides
Q: What is your favorite dish to make at the restaurant?
Andrew Hantzarides: I love making pizza; it was the first thing I learned how to make. When I was two years old, I made my first pizza for a customer. He was a regular and knew my dad, he saw me behind the counter and he said, ‘I want him to make my pizza today.’ So they put a little stool for me to stand on and my dad helped stretch the dough, but after that, it was always something that I had a passion for.
Q: What is the best part about working with your family?
AH: Since we grew up here, it’s home to us so we feel comfortable. Even if we have to spend a 12- or 15-hour day, it doesn’t even feel like that. We still hang out together outside of work.
Q: What kind of flavors are essential to Greek and Italian food?
AH: There are a lot of similar flavors, that’s why we have been able to develop the two menus over the years. Lemon, basil, and oregano go a long way in cuisine. And the secret ingredient in our dishes is lots of love and care.
Q: What is the most popular dish at Old Venice?
AH: It’s hard to pick one thing out, but the Seafood Seashell is a popular pasta dish. Our pizzas and calzones are very popular too. Also we sell a lot of pita wraps. We offer many choices including vegetarian options like souvlakis and gyros.
Q: If you had to eat somewhere in LA that wasn’t your restaurant, where would you eat?
AH: It’s hard to choose one place; I like Philippe’s the Original, in downtown LA. Also, we have a family member who owns a restaurant on Olvera Street called La Luz Del Dia and I’m always looking to try something new. But I do enjoy a lot of Mexican cuisine.
Q: What do you think the restaurant brings to the community?
AH: We’re one of the oldest businesses in the area. A lot of places can’t say they’ve been here for over 30 years like we have. We offer that family environment; that homey feeling. Manhattan Beach is a family town, so a lot of families appreciate us. Our menu is based on the Mediterranean diet and we offer many vegetarian and healthy dining options.
Palate Pleaser: Old Venice offers its guests both Greek and Italian food, and can satisfy the cravings of any Mediterranean cuisine lover.
Mediterranean Vibes: The restaurant is covered in tile mosaics and hand painted murals evoking memories of Greece and Italy. The entry way has stones similar to long winding Greek roads and the windows let in beautiful, natural light. The chairs inside the restaurant are painted different colors, some of them are original to the restaurant having survived the fire and are now left with ghostly scars of a battle they’ve won.
1001 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Foodies Rejoice for Old Venice’s Seafood Linguini