Tucked away in an unassuming, small strip mall on Swift Rd., is a hidden gem of restaurant whose menu and daily special are jam-packed with delicious Northern Italian dishes ranging from stunning seafood to some of the best pasta dishes found anywhere.

La Violetta, now in its second year, is owned and operated by the husband/wife team of Emilio and Rosaria, who are transplants from Parma, Italy. They bring with them a wealth of knowledge and cooking skills of the rich and comforting food characteristic of a European region known for its amazing hams that range from the nutty Proscuitto di Parma to the smoky speck from the mountainous Trentino-Alto Adige.

Here, a rustic decor with seating for 50, is a laid-back experience that sets the pace for casual, country kitchen dining in an intimate atmosphere. A perfect evening for casual dining or for celebrating a special occasion.

Me? I’m a Sicilian gal (with a Neopolitan “heart” as my dad used to say), so everything Italian I love. But Northern Italian takes eating to a new level. Why? Italian food fans and food travel aficionados are constantly debating the hotly contested battle of Northern Italian food vs Southern Italian food.

Some food lovers speak poetically about the fresh flavors and the amazing dried pasta of the south. Then there are the Italophiles that only want to eat the rich flavors and the legendary products of the North. (balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano and it is followed up by the Proscuitto di Parma which is the envy of the culinary world.) Northern Italy is also known for being the home of the most expensive white truffles, several varieties of risotto rice, and is home to Piedmontese cattle, one of the most prized in the world.

With its cooler climate and fertile soil Northern Italy is perfect for raising cattle and other livestock. When you have cows, you get dairy products like butter and cheeses like “Taleggio”  (a semisoft, washed-rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that has a thin crust and a strong aroma, but its flavor is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang). Northern Italy is also a food region renowned for its freshly made pasta that is mostly made by hand. At La Violetta, the large, picturesque kitchen allows customers to see a chef painstakingly kneading and shaping dough into multiple varieties of home made pasta. No pasta at La Violetta is store bought. It’s sacriligious to even think of that option.

So let’s talk food at La Violetta. On this night I dined with my dearest friends, Larry & Denise Kaplan. He – a nice Jewish boy from New York who loves great, Italian restaurants. She, a nice Italian girl who can cook a mean meat sauce from scratch, but would rather go out with her husband to experience fine dining because (like me), she appreciates a good “food orgasm” that can’t be achieved in a conventional home kitchen.

On this night we ate:

Bronzino, fresh whole fish prepared “Sous Vide” style (a cooking technique and the term translates to “under vacuum.” The food is vacuum-sealed in a cooking pouch and heated at a precise temperature in a water bath. Instead of relying on perfect timing, sous vide relies on precise temperature control). This dish was prepared with virgin olive oil, garlic and roasted vegetables. ($39.90)

Rosa di Parma: Grilled beef tenderloin with prosciutto di Parma and parmigiana cheese, with roasted potatoes. ($44.90)

Rack of Lamb, carmelized cherry tomatoes, olives and roasted potatoes ($44.90).

​La Violetta Menu

Pair any of the meals with a good vino (of which they have many fine varieties) and you’ll be returning many more times to La Violetta. Emilio says “many of our friends and customers love to practice ‘fare la scarpetta,’ ” – an Italian expression meaning to bend your bread into a little shoe and use it to mop up the last of the sauce in a dish.”  This implies that everything on the menu is good to the last drop.

Ain’t that the truth?