Culinary Renaissance

5 minutes

When Walter Munaretto, former general manager of Tulsa’s Summit Club, decided retirement didn’t suit his taste after only four years, he wanted to revive a childhood dream.

Munaretto opened Little Venice Restaurant Eatalian Food & Wine in the heart of Sand Springs’ Main Street in May 2020. Two years later, he and his wife and co-owner Candi continue to make new friends every week. Like good pals, they encourage customers to venture outside their comfort zones to experience the creative cuisine and wine, even when the restaurant is bustling.

“You don’t want moscato; try this,” Walter often says as he sorts through his extensive inventory of Italian wines for a sweet red guaranteed to become a new favorite.

Order lasagna al ragu di carne with its rich meaty sauce more than twice, and Walter likely will laud the merits of tender veal scaloppini with shrimp and asparagus or describe the featured fish dish in such detail that taste buds change course. The menu changes weekly to allow patrons plenty of opportunities to eat adventurously.

“If you don’t like it, you don’t eat it. We make you something else, but you will like it, so no worries,” Walter says as he works the room determining customers’ moods and culinary desires.

Frutti di mare (black ink linguini with squid and shrimp) and pappardelle ai funghi (large egg noodles with wild mushrooms and truffle cheese) might become new favorites for both customers and waitstaff, mostly local high school students who learn the art of graceful dining.

Little Venice has a slightly different menu each week, so check their website to see the new dishes before making reservations. Photo by Lori Duckworth

Little Venice has a slightly different menu each week, so check their website to see the new dishes before making reservations. Photo by Lori Duckworth

“I tell them, ‘You already know how to eat not-so-good food. I’ll teach you how to act at a good restaurant,’” Walter says.

Well-trained servers sling Caesar salads and Bananas Foster prepared tableside, which turns meal preparation into performance art for customers, many of whom drive across state lines to visit the quaint restaurant. Antique doors salvaged from what used to be a historic upstairs hotel adorn the walls, creating a nostalgic nod to Sand Springs in an atmosphere designed with an Italian family home in mind. In fact, the Tavolo de la Familia—or family table—seats up to ten, and Little Venice’s private room feels as if the Munarettos are hosting dinner in their ancestral Italian home.

As for the food, many of the ingredients are sourced locally. When a new ice cream store—Big Dipper Creamery—opened on the other end of Main Street in November 2021, the couple visited. They now feature Big Dipper’s vanilla in their own desserts.

From the moment customers walk through the wooden door, they are greeted and treated with a “take care of me” experience, Candi says.

“I remember one time at two o’clock in the morning, Walter woke me up and said, ‘Did you talk to table four?' When we realized that we did not, it made us feel so bad that we changed how we handled reservations. We only take the number of reservations that we can handle—only the number that we can greet and serve to our standards.”

This commitment to personalized service is one of the many reasons the Tulsa World named Little Venice one of the best restaurants in the area in 2021, and its impact on Sand Springs earned it recognition as Small Business of the Year by the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce last year.

Reservations are recommended, especially on the weekends, but patrons shouldn’t be surprised if the dinner hour stretches past closing time if Walter’s entertaining stories of his beloved homeland linger past dessert.

Little Venice Restaurant
Eatalian Food & Wine
208 North Main Street in Sand Springs
(918) 514-0134

Written By
Sheilah Bright

Sheilah Bright