by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie
Those of you who have been following me for a while now, know that Italian food is in my top 3 favorite cuisine types, so I was really looking forward to checking this place out. Nino’s has a long history in Vero that goes back to the 1980s. Owner Jack Barnett (Lakewood Park location) has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 16 years old and got his start at a Miami Subs store. He worked his way up the ladder and spent 8 years with them. A few years later and a few different positions at other restaurants, he got his start at one of the Nino’s locations and quickly moved into a management position. After many years with Nino’s, he decided it was time to open his own place and the current owner of Nino’s agreed to partner with him. Together they opened what is known today at Nino’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria located in Lakewood Park.
Fairly major road constructions is going on in front of Nino’s on Turnpike Feeder road, but you can still easily get into the parking lot without issue. As you approach the restaurant entrance, there is an outdoor seating area on the right if you would like to dine al fresco. Upon entry into the restaurant, you will find a mixture of tables and booths, and some beautiful artwork and murals painted on the walls. The colorful awning that overhangs the front of the kitchen area will definitely grab your eye.
Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what we had to eat!
The first course of the night was Jack’s Salad! It’s made with mixed greens, marinated tomatoes (same ones used for bruschetta), cucumbers, blackened chicken, candied walnuts, fresh mozzarella, and tossed with an Italian vinaigrette. The lettuce was fresh and crisp, the chicken was perfectly cooked and still moist and tender, and the dressing had the right amount of sweet & tangy balance.
Large calamari rings are lightly battered, fried and served with a light tomato sauce for dipping. Lemon wedges were served alongside. The rings were lightly fried and were really tender. The tomato sauce was sweet and had a bold tomato flavor.
So simple, yet so delicious! This dish was a special on the night of our visit so you won’t find it on the regular menu. Linguine is cooked al dente and tossed in a white wine clam sauce. It’s simmered until the clams open their shells.
I can honestly say this dish is a first for me. I’ve only tried the chicken or eggplant versions. A thick fillet of Mahi Mahi was breaded, fried, then topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and baked till golden brown. The fish was light, flaky, and still very moist.
While this dish looks like classic meatballs over Rigatoni, the sauce and the meatballs are what makes it different. Sausage meatballs are served over rigatoni pasta, topped with a roasted pepper sauce and garnished with fresh basil. The meatballs were full of flavor and the sauce had a wonderful, yet subtle roasted red pepper flavor.
Every once in a while, we discover a dessert that just blows our minds, and this is one of them. The name “Banana Cream Pie” does not do it justice. We were discussing it during dinner with the owner, and we believe it should be called the “Banana Dream Pie” because it is that good! Starting at the bottom with a graham cracker style crust, it’s layered with bananas and peanut butter, then topped with a very smooth banana cream filling, and topped with whipped cream and mini chocolate chips. This is made in house daily and was actually created by accident. A few of their customers tried it, fell in love with it, kept requesting it, so now it’s a permanent addition on their dessert menu.
Vero seems to have an overabundance of “fine” Italian dining establishments and not too many casual places, so I was happy to find this one not too far from South Vero where I live. Everything I’ve tasted here has been top-notch, made from scratch, run by a family who cares about what they serve and you can taste their passion in each bite. Jack’s cheesecake alone is worth the trip! It’s as good, if not better than Juniors in NYC. If you crave Italian food as I do, then I highly recommend you make the short drive to Lakewood Park to check this place out, I know you won’t be disappointed!
Address: 5018 Turnpike Feeder Rd, Fort Pierce, FL 34951
Hours of Operation: Money – Thursday, 11:00 am till 9:00 pm, Friday, 11:00 am till 10:00 pm, Saturday 4:00 pm till 10:00 pm. and Sunday, 12:00 pm till 9:00 pm.
This experience was part of our new “Restaurant Review Dining Experience” where you have an opportunity to join me, “The Food Guy” on an actual restaurant review and go behind the lens to see how I work and taste all of the amazing food you have seen in my articles! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, subscribe to our email newsletter and text alerts so you know when tickets go on sale for our upcoming events!
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