I cant think of enough superlatives to describe Via col Vento, the coffee shop on Dublins downtown square. Owned by husband Heinz Krassnig of Austria and wife Maria Runggaldier of Italy, Via col Vento is the best find Ive had in several years.
The atmosphere is European, the host is completely charming, and Marias food is simply the best you will find within 100 miles.
Each day, Maria makes a fresh batch of two specials. Mondays its meaty lasagna and chicken marsala. Tuesdays its seven-veggie lasagna and chicken alfredo. Wednesdays its asparagus and ham lasagna and chicken scaloppini. Thursdays its roast beef cannelloni and chicken parmesan. Fridays its meat lasagna and sirloin beef tips with Vidalia onions.
A six-by-six-inch serving of lasagna is $6.50 and the meat dish is $8.50 for what seems like a dinner serving.
We were there on a Friday, so we enjoyed the huge serving of meat lasagna and the beef tips. The lasagna was absolutely the very best we had ever had (sorry, Mom), with tender noodles and just the right amounts of ragu and béchamel. In the other dish, the beef tips were topped with caramelized onions in a white wine butter sauce and served with melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes and perfectly sautéed squash.
If the specials dont suit you on your visit, Via col Vento always has several sandwiches (called paninis in Italy) on offer. We tried the margherita (tomatoes and pesto), the roast chicken (with roasted red peppers and roma tomatoes), and the Barbi. The Barbi was my favorite, with heaps of real prosciutto on three pieces of thinly sliced and buttered bread to keep the sandwich from wilting from the juices.
The sandwiches are $5.50 or $6.50 depending on their contents, a price that cannot last considering their quality ingredients.
Salad lovers will also be thrilled: there is salad with chicken, gorgonzola, walnuts and figs on Mondays; Caprese on Tuesdays; Caesar on Wednesdays; marinated grilled antipasto on thursdays; and Italian salad alla Maria on Fridays. Each one is $5.95.
There were at least eight desserts to choose from, but our favorites were the Florentines, the nutcrackers, and the esterhazy torte. Florentines are like shaved almond brittle with a coating of chocolate underneath. Nutcrackers are similar with whole blanched hazelnuts. The esterhazy is an Austrian specialty cake made with nougat in the cake batter and buttercream between the layers.
We plan to come back one afternoon to take advantage of the happy hour special that includes all-you-can-eat tapas (appetizers made by Maria) for only $3.50. Its a bit of a drive, but Marias cooking is well worth it.
In fact, we may also take advantage of her cooking lessons. At $55 for a three-hour lesson followed by eating what you made, we could all learn to cook like an Italian.
For more information about their formal restaurant, the cooking lessons, or Via col Vento, go to dublinfarm.com. Buon appetito!
Via col Vento
Address: 306 Academy Ave., Dublin
Phone: (478) 272-9577
Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: Yes
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 92
Price range: $5.50 and up
Rating: 4 stars