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Old Venice Pizza Company is opening in East Memphis. The original location in Oxford was opened in 1997 by Jim Bullion and Dave Buscher.

The two combined Greek and Italian recipes passed down in their families to create an eclectic menu that also includes Cajun and American influences. A good example of this mix are the crawfish rolls, which are spring rolls stuffed with crawfish, bacon, and cream cheese. Another is the "Crawdad Delight" with angel-hair pasta and Cajun spice cream sauce.

Most patrons, however, recognize Old Venice Pizza Company for its pizzas. There are 25 specialty pizzas and 40 toppings to build your own. Each pie is hand-tossed and prepared fresh-to-order. For veggie lovers, the menu features at least five vegetarian options, including the "'Shrooms" with four mushroom varieties served with pesto sauce. For the Memphis market - the fourth including the Starkville and Jackson, Mississippi, locations - Bullion and Buscher created some Memphis-specific pies, including the "Hog Wild," which features pulled pork and spicy barbecue sauce.

Russ Graham, who attended Ole Miss and has worked at Grill 83 and Ruth's Chris, is the general manager of the Memphis location.

"I grew up with Old Venice for seven years," Graham says. "People in Oxford are very loyal. We'd love for them to come in and watch the games on the weekend."

Graham also touts the Burgundy Room, the restaurant's martini and cigar bar. "We have high-end well drinks, with quality brands like Old Charter and Famous Grouse. We're very proud of the bar," he says.

Old Venice Pizza Company is scheduled to open August 26th. Hours will be 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. For more information, visit Ovpc.com.

Old Venice Pizza Company, 368 S. Perkins Extended (767-6872)

From early-morning lattes and scones to late-night romantic dinners, Bistro Aroma offers something for everyone. In April, Boris Blanc and Gennadiy Pollack opened the restaurant with the intention of bringing a European-style bistro to Memphis. The pair chose a location in Orleans Place shopping center on Kirby Parkway for its European architecture and large patio seating beneath a canopy.

"There's nothing like this in town," says Blanc. "The architecture had to match the concept. It's cute and small. It really has the feel of a European bistro."

The tapas menu is meant to be shared among friends and enjoyed with the numerous imported wines and beers Bistro Aroma offers. In addition, the menu features fresh salads and soups.

"In the morning, we offer upscale European coffee and pastries. At lunch, we serve a mix of Mediterranean, Spanish, and Portuguese," Blanc says. "Gazpacho is one of our specialties. It's served in a French bread bowl with parmesan cheese."

Another specialty of the house is couvert, a Portuguese cross between a sandwich and a salad. It is a pita stuffed with salad, served with hummus, and filled with a choice of eggplant and vegetables, salami and cheese, or lox and cheese.

Bistro Aroma is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., until 11 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Bistro Aroma, 1779 Kirby Parkway (624-6689)

Shelby County Residential and Vocational Services will host the 7th Annual Spirit of SRVS wine tasting and live auction August 27th from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Hilton Memphis. In addition to a wide variety of wines and beers, food will be donated by area restaurants, including Bari, Bhan Thai, Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Central BBQ, Equestria Restaurant, Hilton Memphis, Memphis Pizza Café, Silky O'Sullivan's, the University of Memphis hospitality program, and Yia Yia's Eurocafe.

The entertainment will feature music from Eddie Harrison and a performance by Company D, a troupe composed of young people from the area with Down's syndrome.

Tickets cost $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Proceeds from tickets and auction items will support programs through SRVS, which provides housing and employment opportunities to the area's developmentally disabled people.

For tickets or more information, call 869-9234 or visit www.srvs.org.

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