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Asaro's restaurant is one of a handful of new places to visit in the Venice area.

It feels like a ghost town, and as a year-rounder I’m lovin’ it. There are so many new places to explore in our area with no crowds and wait time. I can drive to Venice Beach from my eastside home in about 10 minutes. The downtown stores are all running sales. Unlike most historic downtowns, we have reasonably priced clothing, shoes, jewelry and home décor, and it’s stuff you actually use. I picked up a half-priced bathing suit at Sunbug earlier this week, grabbed dinner at Cassariano (with no wait and no reservations!) brought an out of town friend to the Crow’s Nest for lunch--again with no wait.

And last Friday, a few friends and I ventured out to the beachside Fins for happy hour. Even though the gourmet restaurant is on the second floor, you feel like you are right on the beach because of the siting. If you get there 4-6 p.m., drinks and small plates run about $6. The outdoor deck is the place to be. We snagged one of the couches without a wait or a tussle and caught a gorgeous sunset. It felt like being on vacation.

For pizza lovers, there’s the new Asaro’s in the Publix plaza on Laurel and Pinebrook. It opened a month ago and features pizza with all different types of crusts and toppings. Tried a barbecue chicken on a Sicilian crust and it was delicious. No grease marks on the pizza box either, a sign of a perfectly prepared crust in my book. We also have the new Flynn’s Restaurant at 133 W. Venice Ave., next to Bushido’s downtown. It opened a few weeks ago. Owned by Susan and Gary Flynn, who operated the Java Café at the Venice Art Center, the restaurant features traditional and new American fare including steaks, seafood, and chicken. In the afternoons, they have a proper English tea. There is also the new-ish BrewBurgers. Owners Mike and Liz Bacon recently opened their second location at 525 Tamiami Trail in the Publix plaza on Venice Island. Also new-ish: two locations of Italiano’s Pasta and Pizza Parlor; 1055 Bypass US 41 and 4191 S. Tamiami Trail, respectively.

With the Fourth of July next weekend, I’m sure the city will start filling up again, soon to be followed by the Europeans’ holiday. Enjoy the place while you can.