Get To Know Duluth Italian Restaurant: Va Bene Caffe

Get a Taste of Va Bene!

Duluthians are drawn to the lake. We want to walk along it, stare at it, dip our toes in it. It’s no surprise, then, that we love Va Bene Caffe and its spectacular lake views. Va Bene’s guests can watch boats come into the harbor, walkers and runners on the Lakewalk below and sailboats as they float by on warm Wednesday nights.

The other reason we love Va Bene? Its fresh, Italian fare and welcoming atmosphere. If you haven’t been, reserve your next date night at Va Bene. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, let’s get to know Va Bene’s owners and husband/wife duo, Jim and Mary Kay Berarducci.

Jim and Mary Kay Berarducci, Va Bene Caffe
734 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802

Where did you get the idea for Va Bene? The original inspiration came from a family vacation in Venice, while having a cappuccino and pastry and looking out at the water. We wanted to create that same experience in Duluth—terrific, made-from-scratch Italian food with a great atmosphere and an exceptional view of the lake. When we returned from that trip, we found the perfect location. We opened Va Bene in 2006, and it has been constantly evolving and expanding ever since. We are currently renovating one of the apartments above the restaurant to serve as a private dining room.

What drew you to Duluth? Mary Kay is from Duluth and Jim is from Chisholm. Even while living in Minneapolis, we knew we wanted to raise our family in Duluth. We moved back in 1995 and haven’t looked back since.

What do you love about Duluth? Lake Superior. It’s amazing how the view is constantly changing with the Duluth weather. Va Bene has arguably THE best view of this amazing body of water.

What do you think about the current Duluth economy? It is growing and changing for the better. The city’s new developments in retail, restaurants, hotels and office buildings, and its focus on preserving and enhancing natural beauty, makes it a special place to live and work. More people are staying and moving to the area because of the expanded job openings.

We are impressed that the economy has maintained its historic strengths in mining, healthcare, retail, tourism, and education while diversifying with companies such as Enbridge, Maurices, Barr, Cirrus. We give a lot of credit to Mayor Ness and the entrepreneurial business leaders to lead this transition through the toughest stretch the US economy has had since the Great Depression.

What would be your advice to someone thinking about opening a new business in Duluth? Have a vision and stick with it. Make sure you are well capitalized to get through the tough patches that every new business goes through. Hire great people and treat them exceptionally well. Focus on the needs of your customers and be flexible in evolving your business to meet their needs to achieve your vision.

A couple other fun facts about you two: We have 5 children, all will be living in Duluth (as of June ’15) after spending significant time in the TC and out of state.

Favorite place to eat in Duluth (other than Va Bene, of course!): Apps and cocktails at the bar at Zeitgeist and Lake Ave Café.

Favorite local business in Duluth: Trailfitters (you can never have too many pairs of Smartwools), Fit Club and the Protein Pub.

Favorite Duluth “hidden gem”: Enger Tower. It’s not really hidden, but amazing nonetheless.