Perfect Italian Restaurant: Va Bene Caffé

Mary Kay and Jim Berarducci run a tiny Italian restaurant overlooking a massive lake. The combination of cozy atmosphere, magnificent view and delicious cuisine is no accident; “va bene” is Italian for “it goes well.” Readers of Perfect Duluth Day agree it does, indeed, go well. In a poll they chose Va Bene Caffé as Duluth’s best Italian restaurant.

Mary Kay Berarducci - Va Bene

The menu includes antipasta appetizers, pizza, panini, gnocchi, pasta, fish, steak, soups and salads. Many items, such as the sauces, dressings and breads, are made from scratch with imported Italian products.

Dessert items often steal the show, however. Va Bene’s gelato/sorbet bar offers about a dozen flavors every day, with new options frequently rotated in, such as bananas foster, limoncello, Mackinaw Island fudge, white chocolate raspberry swirl, lavendar honey, Italian pistachio and Madagascar bourbon vanilla.

In addition to the enclosed solarium looking out over Lake Superior, which has served as the restaurant’s main dining area since it opened in 2006, there is also a four-table open-air grotto that opened this summer with more views of the Gitche Gumee.

Va Bene gathered 40 percent of the best Italian restaurant vote. Honorable mentions go to Bellisio’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar, Valentini’s Vicino Lago and Gannucci’s Italian Market, each of which grabbed about an 18 percent chunk of the pizza pie.

PDD Awards Index



about 9 years ago

They seriously need to rethink their beer menu. 

Peroni? Seriously? This stuff about as good as Blatz. Just because it is Italian beer does not mean it deserves a place in an Italian restaurant. Same goes for Moretti, though the La Rossa was not terrible. 

Then there is the domestic offerings of Coors Light, Summit EPA and Shell's Firebrick. 

I would expect a place that offers a $95 bottle of wine to have beer list that is somewhat respectable. In 2000 it was acceptable to only have Summit as your "exotic" beer choice, but not anymore. 

Other than that, I like the place. Great view, decent entrees for decent prices and some delicious desserts.


about 9 years ago

Va Bene is pretty good. We're lucky when we receive competent restaurants in this area. Given the limited pool, calling the winner in a narrow category 'perfect', while I suppose it's a nod to this site's name, seems like grading on a curve.


about 9 years ago

I love the terrace area. I think Valentino's might have better food, but Va Bene's good food plus wonderful ambience wins.

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