Over the past few years Off The Wagon has really changed its look and its appeal for the Venice community. From a small dingy bar to a clean cut, open and large restaurant and bar, this is bound to be a new hot spot in town. Walking in the door to the wide open space with a glass wall separating those in the newly expanded dining room from the brewery where the magic is happening, just fills me with excitement.
Where is Off The Wagon in Venice?
If you are heading south on Tamiami Trail, you can spot Off The Wagon Brewery and Kitchen on the left hand side at the light for Alligator Rd. It is located in the same plaza as the movie theater with Metro Diner front and center at the light. Once you enter the parking lot, it’s clear in giant lettering where to go!
I have been so blessed the last few years to get to know the owner, Tommy Villani. He has a passion for his business and also a drive to help his community. It’s because of his charitable nature that his second restaurant concept, Irma’s Tacos, Craft Beer and Tequila Bar was born. (Check out more about Irma’s). He has worked tirelessly to take what used to be a tiny dive bar and turn it into an incredible hot spot for food, drinks and entertainment. Along with his executive chef, Mike Leopold, Off The Wagon is constantly cranking out unique flavors and dishes that will dazzle your mind. Forget any preconceived notions you may have, this is not your typical bar food.
Venice’s First and Only Micro Brewery
A beautiful partnership came together with Off The Wagon’s expansion as they joined with 3 Bridges Brewing and built the brewery inside the restaurant. It truly is a marvelous sight to sit in the dining room and look through the glass walls to see the brewery in action. Over the last five years, 3 Bridges Brewing has won numerous awards for their beer including both a silver and a bronze medal in the Best Florida Beer Competition. With so many varieties to choose from, there’s a beer for all tastebuds! IPA in either East or West coast style, English Porter, Pilsner, Lagers, and more!
What are the best dishes at Off The Wagon?
To be perfectly honest, I have yet to taste something on the menu that was anything less than delicious. They are consistently voted as the Best Burger in Venice in our Venice Foodies Community group and if that’s what you’re in the mood for, this is the place to go. Their burgers are ground fresh daily and are completed with the toppings, sauces and bun of your choice. The worst part is trying to decide what to create! I will typically pick the pretzel bun with bacon and beer cheese, however, my husband loves the brioche bun with mushrooms and swiss.
Other notable dishes are the Tommy Pastrami and the Wagon Ramen Bowl. The Tommy Pastrami is the kind of sandwich that just makes you feel good. Tender, thin sliced pastrami warmed up with melted provolone cheese and served on a pretzel bun smeared with a mustard aioli is like being back in a Manhattan deli. Then on the opposite end of the spectrum is the Wagon Ramen bowl. This is not the ramen of your college dorm days! It has a rich, flavorful shoyru broth covering fresh noodles with hunks of pork belly and shitake mushrooms topped with a sliced hard boiled egg, scallions and a drizzle of sriracha.
Late Night Entertainment in Venice
Unlike the rest of Venice, Off The Wagon is open late and always has something fun to offer the community. There’s always a variety of live music offerings from local bands like #NoFilter, Gas House Gorillas and Tropical Avenue to DJ Tony Accardi with karaoke on Thursday nights. Then offering other events like Trivia on Tuesdays, Ladies night with DJ Jimi-O and more, it’s always a fun night at Off The Wagon. Check out their Facebook page for an up to date calendar of events!
This restaurant is one that we visit as often as we can. We love trying the various limited-time specials from the culinary genius mind of Chef Mike Leopold. There was one visit in particular that sticks out in my mind. Jason ordered their surf special for the week, Orecchiette pasta with seared scallops, pancetta, kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes in a white wine butter sauce. I don’t even have the words to explain to you how incredible this dish was. Even my husband who barely utters a word when he likes a dish has been raving about it for the last hour. “Like biting into a unicorn…” “I hear angels singing…” “I can die happy right now…” and I have to really agree with him, that was easily one of the best dishes we have had in this town.