Slow Down for a Meal at Villa Dolce

Slow Down for a Meal at Villa Dolce
Faton Lumani; grilled lamb sliders with a feta cream cheese spread.

Faton Lumani wants you to check out his restaurant, but there are some exceptions. The most notable: You must be able to stay awhile.

“We made it so people enjoy food,” says Lumani. “Not so that people can come here in thirty minutes and leave.”

Villa Dolce’s menu encourages people to share, just as the Lumani family did for years in the Mediterranean. If you stop by the historic space in downtown Middleton, order Lumani’s artisan sausages. They’re melt-in-your-mouth meats made with grilled beef and lamb, served with a feta aioli and topped with cucumber and tomato over a crostini. It’s such a delicious dish that it easily takes less time to devour it than to describe it.

Any of the antipasto platters are worth sharing, too, made with fresh mozzarella and imported prosciutto. If you’re ordering a pizza to split with friends, go for the prosciutto and arugula.

Another big hit? The made-from-scratch gelato. An even bigger hit? The made-from-scratch gelato martini, also known as a gelatini.

“We call it the milkshake for grown-ups,” laughs Lumani.

He and his brother Gjyner, who co-owns Villa Dolce, may have roots in Europe, but don’t mistake them as being anything but true Wisconsinites.

“I’ve been in the states longer than I’ve been in Albania,” says Lumani. “I came when I was twenty-one years old. I’m forty-six now.”

And along the way, he’s made connections that have not only brought success to his business, they’ve made him a success as well.

“I appreciate it every minute,” says Lumani. “From day one, they’ve been supportive and I thank them all the time. And if there’s something we can support, we do it.”

1828 Parmenter St., Middleton