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Good food knows no boundaries. Whether you’re traveling South America to discover ancient cultures or just sightseeing in Venice, you can always find uniquely delicious cuisine in just about every corner of the world. But just like how cultures and ethnicity mix and match with each other over time, so does food - and that can produce some amazing results. That type of culinary innovation is the foundation of Leonore Restaurant, a local Venezuelan restaurant with a distinct Italian twist based out of Roanoke, Virginia. We’ve all had those moments where you might want some Italian cheesy bread but someone else is craving empanadas. Leonore’s unique menu - a fusion of traditional Venezuelan cuisine and expertly made Italian food - is the savior for those dinner-related predicaments. Leonore Restaurant is no doubt a one-of-a-kind dining experience, but they always keep their homeland in their minds. Acknowledging the economic hardships in Venezuela, Leonore’s owners regularly hold fundraisers and contribute their earnings to Venezuelans in need. Read on to find out more about Leonore Restaurant delicious offerings, culinary style, and humanitarian efforts.
Leonore Restaurant understands that just like how humans interact and connect with other cultures, food can do the same. By combining Venezuelan cuisine with Italian food, Leonore has carved out their own distinct identity in Roanoke. Many Asian-fusion style restaurants have popped up all over the United States, combining traditional Eastern or Southeastern Asian food with North and South American culinary traditions. Leonore, although drawing some similarities to this national trend, is seemingly in a league all of its own. Sporting a menu that contains a healthy blend of their two distinctly different cultures, one might expect the culinary and cultural aesthetic of Venezuela and Italy to be too contrasting, too different. But what Leonore’s owners and chefs have created is a beautifully balanced and exceedingly accessible experience. You’ll seldom find someone tolling over the menu for half an hour because they can’t find something they like - instead they’ll have a hard time trying to decide which delicious menu item they want to order!
Looking at Leonore’s appetizer offerings, you’ll immediately find a diverse and balanced offering. You’ll find your South American classics such as the empanada and tajadas right alongside Italian favorites, including cheesy bread and garlic knots. If you’re looking for some distinctly Venezuelan flair, the tequenos and chicken soup will be right up your alley. Don’t get too excited - those are just the apps!Whether you want a classic caesar salad or the zestier La Cachetona, Leonore has a salad selection unlike any other. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Leonare’s specialty are their arepas - a gluten-free white cornmeal “bread” that is handmade, grilled, and served like a sandwich. The arepas come with a wide selection of fillings, including ceviche, steak, grilled tomato with mozzarella, and many more. If you’re looking for the more Italian side of things, Leonore has a solid pizza selection, all coming in small, medium, or large sizes. You can either get the classics - margherita or meat lovers - or get a little more exotic with the mediterranean pizza. Leonore’s entrees remain just as varied in style and taste. Italian-style chicken alfredo, lasagna, and chicken parmesan populate one half of the menu, while the other half includes traditional Venezuelan dishes like the Pabellon Criollo or the Carne en Salsa. You really can’t go wrong with either side though - you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful dining experience. Hope you’re a dessert lover, because Leonare doesn’t skimp on the sweets either! Their Golfeados, or Venezuelan sweet and savory rolls, are a must-get. The Tres Leches and Eclair are also highlights. We could go on and on - we haven’t even mentioned their cocktails, mixed drinks, and street food - so we’ll just say this: you won’t be disappointed by Leonore’s incredible variety.
But outside of food, Leonare’s owner Miguel Liendo’s passions also lie in his home country. Over the past year, Venezuela has been struggling with political turmoil and a large humanitarian crisis. As former Venezuelan Congress President Juan Guaido’s forces struggle to top the de facto leader Nicolas Maduro, the country fell into deep poverty and has spiraled into distress. The country continues to struggle, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic mounting even more pressure on Venezuela’s political and humanitarian crisis. Liendo is trying to address his home country’s troubles in any way that he can, such as raising awareness through his restaurant. In 2019, Leonore partnered with the Good Deed Program to hold a two-day fundraiser where a percentage of the restaurant’s profits went to humanitarian aid efforts aimed at Venezuela. Although the pandemic has made life difficult for just about every business, Leonore will likely continue its efforts towards addressing Venezuela’s escalating situation.
Leonore is available to order online, and is now offering free delivery. Don’t take our word for it - try them out yourself! You’ll be contributing to a good cause, while also treating yourself to something unique.