VIA Downer – A New Neighborhood Venue
By Cynthia Sommer
An introduction to the new restaurant on Downer is still timely, even though many Eastsiders have already eaten at VIA since it opened in late May. The restaurant is located at 2625 N. Downer Avenue in the space that once was occupied by Coffee Trader. The restaurant is across from the popular Café Hollander and next to the Original Pancake House. Customers can dine outdoors on the patio or in the attractive interior filled with an open kitchen, stone oven, wooden tables, and colorful artwork. This restaurant has espresso drinks and a full service bar.
Via Downer is a new venture by the owners of Transfer Pizzeria and Cafe, a popular place on the near South side. The signature pizza with a bubbly, airy crust and garlic sauce developed by Vasyl Lemberskyy at Transfer is evident on the VIA pizza menu but customers can also choose from a variety of traditional and specialty pizzas. A 12” pizza with a salad makes a nice meal.
VIA Downer is really a restaurant that also serves delicious pizza. A growing menu of appetizers, soups, salads, panini, wraps, pasta, entrees has been added to the pizza menu. Chef James Nations at VIA has developed the restaurant menu to create a Mediterranean fusion style. The bruschetta and crostini appetizers are creatively made with typical Mediterranean ingredients, such as Gorgonzola cheese, kalamata olives and roasted vegetables. A North African style marinated tuna with cumin, garlic and cilantro on pasta also generate unique flavors. A variety of salads, wraps (e.g., Mediterranean or Smoked Salmon and Avocado) or panini (e.g., Pollo Florentine or Margherita) can make a great lunch or provide a late night lighter choice. A gluten-free menu is also available. The kitchen at VIA Downer is open Sunday –Monday 11 am -10 pm. Tues-Thursday, 11 am to 11 pm and Friday- Saturday 11am – 12 pm . If you haven’t yet been to VIA Downer, it is worth the visit.