Tag Archives: Italian

Nick’s Family Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie

My next Tasting Experience review takes me to Nick’s Family Restaurant in Downtown Vero!  This is one of those places that I like to call a local’s place.  It’s somewhat hard to find and parking is not the best, but it’s so worth seeking out.  It has the feel of a place like the TV show called Cheers, and it feels like everyone knows your name since you will most likely bump into your neighbor while you are there.  The building they occupy dates back to the 1920’s and it got its start as a jewelry store called J.C. DuBose.  Mr. DuBose also used it for the practice of optometry.  Through the years it has seen many different restaurants including Sand Bar & Package Tavern, Bobby’s Café, Pepin’s Pub, Pickles Deli Café, and lastly before becoming Nick’s it was the Palm Tree Inn.  Nick and his wife, Meggin have owned and operated Nick’s Family Restaurant for the last 16 years, the most of any previous restaurant tenant.  The word “family” in the name best describes who is working here more than the atmosphere.  Nick and his mom run the kitchen with help from his niece on busy nights, and you can find Meggin working the dining room and waiting tables.  What are they doing differently than the previous tenants did that has kept the doors open this long?  Keep reading to find out!

I’m sure most of you have passed by this place 100 times and did not even realize it was there.  As you head west on Hwy 60 there is a sign and an entrance, but no parking available.  To park and use the back entrance, turn left off of 14th Ave right before Blue Agave into the ally, and a few businesses down is where Nick’s entrance is located.  They have a few designated parking spots, but in the evening when most businesses close, there are quite a few other spots available.  The rear entrance from the ally feels like you are going into the employee entrance, but it takes you into a long hallway right into the dining room.  The dining room has a large bar that has 10 seats and on the opposite wall are tables and chairs.  They do have a few high-top tables at the front entrance if you prefer.

 

Now let’s jump right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!

Garlic Knots ½ Order – ($3.95) – I haven’t met a garlic knot that I don’t like yet, and these are no exception.  Perfectly baked till golden brown on the outside, soft and fluffy inside.  They are served with a side of house-made marinara is the perfect appetizer to start your meal.

Sausage Parmesan Sandwich – ($7.95) –  OMG that looks so good!  Made with a toasted sub bun, they use a mild Italian sausage and place it inside the bread with their marinara sauce and top it with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  The sausage was ground very fine and had the consistency of a meatball in a casing.  The marinara was the same as served with the garlic knots, and as you can see from the picture above, they don’t skimp on the cheese.  It was amazing!

Bacon Swissburger – ($8.95) – A classic cheeseburger with bacon and sautéed onions & mushrooms is always an excellent choice.  The burger was cooked to a perfect medium and was very juicy, the bacon was nice and crisp and added a subtle smokiness, and the bun was soft and very fresh.  French Fries were served alongside.

Chicken Wings (10 pc) – ($9.95) – Wings are one of my all-time favorite foods on the planet, and Nick’s multiple Award-Winning wings are some of the best that Vero has to offer.  The jumbo wings are fried then tossed in the sauce of your choice.  The wings are crispy on the outside and moist and tender inside.  With 11 different sauce options, they have something to please everyone. 

Cannoli – ($2.95) – We were getting pretty full from all the food they served us, but we still wanted something sweet to round out our meal.  The cannoli made sense due to the size, and there is always room for dessert, right?  The cannoli shell was fried till golden brown, stuffed with their house-made filling, then dusted with powdered sugar.  The super smooth filling had the perfect amount of sweetness and small chocolate chips added a slight texture to the filling.  It was really good!

In Conclusion:

I only just discovered Nick’s less than 6 months ago and I’m glad I did.  I was so impressed with their wings that we decided to do a Vero Beach Foodie wing eating contest at the end of January with their hottest sauce called Italian Pain.  It was a raving success and we plan to do another one later this year, but with a much hotter sauce.  This is a place that both my wife and I continue to suggest as a dinner option since they have items that we both like, so this place comes up often as our go-to place.  If you have not been here before, then might I suggest you give them a try and see for yourself, I know you won’t be disappointed!

Have you tried Nick’s Family Restaurant?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Nick’s Family Restaurant Website  |  Nick’s Family Restaurant Facebook Page

Address1453 20th St, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Phone(772) 567-2311

Hours of Operation:  Monday & Tuesday, 10am – 3pm, Wednesday – Friday, 10am – 9pm

The Original Mama Mia’s Kitchen – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie

For my next tasting experience, I head back to Downtown Vero once again and to The Original Mama Mia’s Kitchen!  It seems like just yesterday that the VB American Bar & Grill was there, and in the blink of an eye, the sign changed and the new one for this place went up.  Once the word got out about Mama Mia’s, the questions started flooding in.  Is this the same place that was open in Sebastian many years ago?  I’m happy to report that the family recipes and lineage are the same, just with new ownership.  For the full story of Mama Mia’s history, be sure to check out the back of the menu when you dine with them.

Located on 14th Avenue in the corner between Main Street Jewelers and Baci Trattoria is Vero’s newest Italian restaurant.  Subtle changes were done to the interior due to the quick change over, but they did add a lattice wall with green vine through it to divide the room, most of the tables and booths were used with a few changes to the configuration, and they added white tablecloths with glass tops on all the tables.  The bar and TV’s that were there previously have remained.  They still share the patio with Baci, but they don’t open until well after Baci has closed, so there is no overlap.  Most of the businesses in the plaza are also closed or closing shortly after Mama Mia’s opens, so most of the parking lot will be available to their customers.

 

Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!

Escargot in Phyllo Cup – ($8.95) – I have fond memories of a dish that used to be offered at the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival in the France pavilion that this one reminded me of, so I had to try it.  The escargot was placed in the phyllo cups, topped with a garlic butter sauce, then baked until golden brown.  The escargot was very tender and almost disintegrated with the flakiness of the phyllo cup when I took a bite.  The garlic butter sauce was just enough to coat and not overwhelm the dish.

Mozzarella en Carozza – ($8.95) – With such a fancy sounding name in Italian, I was not sure what to expect since it translates in English to just a mozzarella cheese sandwich.  Fresh mozzarella cheese is sandwiched between two slices of bread and the “sandwich” is then coated with seasoned flour, dipped in an egg wash and fried until golden brown.  Marinara sauce can be served over the top or alongside.  The outside of the bread had a light crunch, while the inside was soft and gooey from the cheese.  The marinara has just the right amount of sweet verses tartness from the tomatoes.  It was so good!

Twisted Caesar Salad – ($7.95) – I was curious as to what makes it “twisted”, so we ordered it to find out.  From the description, it’s a typical Caesar salad with the addition of fresh mushrooms and bacon.  The lettuce was nice and crisp and was not overdressed.  The addition of the mushrooms and bacon added some additional texture, but only a minimal smokiness from the bacon.

Momma Mia Fiesta Platter – ($18.95) – Since this was our first time here, I thought that ordering the sampler platter would be a good idea to try several of the dishes they offer at one time.  This platter includes an eggplant rolatini, ravioli, meatball, sausage, and penne.  All were topped with their house-made marinara sauce.  The meatball, made with only ground beef, was seasoned nicely and quite tender.  The sausage was quite bold in flavor but just a little too “herby” for my tastes.  The ravioli had a generous amount of filling and was cooked al dente.  The true star on this plate was the eggplant rolatini.  I’ve tried several around town at other restaurants, but this one steals the show.  The eggplant was roasted, then rolled up with seasoned ricotta cheese, topped with mozzarella, and baked until golden brown.  It was very tender and easy to cut through with a fork, yet still had a little chew to it which was nice.  Flavor was spot on and it was a table favorite!

Veal Parmigiana – ($19.95) – As one of my all-time favorite Italian dishes, I was happy to see this on the menu.  Portion size is HUGE!  I would compare this to the size of a chicken breast you get at Fresh Market.  Being as thick as it was, I really expected it to be a bit tough as I had read in a previous review by a local newspaper. I had preconceived expectations, but to my surprise, it was anything but.  It was perfectly seasoned and very tender.  The sauce served on the side was their meat sauce and it was delicious.  A side of spaghetti with marinara was served alongside.

Tiramisu – ($5.95) – While not necessarily one of my favorite Italian desserts, it is one that we have not had very often during my reviews, so we decided to order it.  Portion size was very generous and could easily be shared, it also had just the right amount of sweetness after such a savory meal.  The ladyfingers were perfectly tender and did not have much alcohol flavor which was nice because that is one of the reasons why this is not a favorite of mine.  It was a nice way to round out our Italian meal!

In Conclusion:

I had heard they had a rough start when they first opened and their review from 32963 confirmed some of what I had heard.  I’m happy to report that my experience was much better than expected for a place that had only been open for a short while.  I usually like to let the “new” wear off a bit and let them get in their groove, but I was anxious to see what all the hype was about.  The food was quite good and very fresh.  You can tell most, if not everything is house-made.  The atmosphere was somewhat like the previous tenant since some of it was reused, but they did add some nice touches to make it more of a fine dining establishment.  If you love Italian food as much as I do, then I suggest you go give these guys a try, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Original Mama Mia’s Kitchen Facebook Page

Address1920 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960
 
Hours of Operation:  Wednesday – Thursday, 4:30pm – 9:00pm, Friday – Saturday, 4:30pm – 10:00pm, and Sunday – Monday, 4:30pm – 9:00pm, Closed on Tuesdays
 
 

VB American Bar & Grill – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie

My next tasting experience takes me back to Downtown Vero and to its newest restaurant, the VB American Bar & Grill.  Owners Dave Huneke and Shelley Bunyon opened the place in June of this year in what used to be known as Scoozi.  Dave has been in the restaurant business nearly his entire life.  He started his career at the age of 15 where he worked in a diner.  Over the years, he has worked at places such as the Ramada Inn, TGI Friday’s, and has owned 3 restaurants and a catering company before deciding to move to Vero.  Before the review, the owners sat down with me for a short while to chat about the upcoming dishes were about to taste.  I could immediately tell by the way he described them that they both were foodies, so I knew I was in for a treat!

We arrived on a Tuesday evening around 5:30 pm for dinner.  With most of the other businesses in the plaza closed now, we had no problem finding a parking spot.  If the lot is full, you can usually find parking on the street nearby.  You enter the restaurant through the courtyard that they share with Baci Trattoria and the door is on the left.  Upon entry, you will see the hostess stand and the bar directly behind, with the dining room to the right.  The hostess greeted us and we were shown to our table in the dining room.  There are a mix of booth and tables and plenty of stools at the bar if you would like to sit, relax and have a drink.  The inside was nicely decorated and felt very clean and comfortable.

Now let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat and drink!

 

Bimini Martini (Left) – I tend to like my drinks sweeter rather than sour, and this one delivers.  This drink is made with Malibu rum, pineapple & strawberry.  It was sweet, but not too much so and had this wonderful coconut flavor.  Be careful with this one, it went down easy and you can most certainly get yourself in trouble fast if you have a few.  😉

Pink Lemonade (Right) – This drink was suggested to us as one of their more popular options.  It’s made with Three Olives vodka, Chambord & lemonade.  Flavor was subtle and not as tangy as I thought since it had lemonade in it, but it was still refreshing.

VB Poutine – ($8.00) –   All the restaurant reviews that I’ve done around Vero, this is the first time I’ve seen this on any menu so I had to try it.  It’s made with crinkle cut French fries, fried cheese curds, and topped with a rich pan gravy.  The fries were lightly fried but still crispy, the cheese curds had a nice crunch and a bit of spice, and the pan gravy was rich and flavorful.  I think I just became a fan of poutine!

Mesclun Salad – ($13.00) – Large salads as a meal are one of my favorite summertime dishes, so I had to give this one a try.  It’s made with a spring lettuce mix, red onion, craisins, pine nuts, provolone pearls, sliced granny smith apples and a vinaigrette dressing served alongside.  The lettuce was fresh and crisp and the dressing was slightly sweet which paired nicely with the sourness of the apple.  The pine nuts were a new option that I’ve not seen on other salads around town, most everyone uses pecans, so this added a new layer of flavor that I have not tried yet.  It was delicious!

Country Sligo – ($13.00) – Of all the sandwiches on the menu, this one seemed the most unique to me.  It’s made with warm roast beef served open faced on rye toast and topped with sautéed onions, horseradish sauce and Tillamook cheddar cheese melted over the top.  Man, oh man, THIS is a great sandwich!  Dave roasts the beef in house so he can control the flavor and quality of what he serves.  The bread was toasted to add a crunchy texture and the horseradish sauce was very subtle, so don’t worry if you don’t like it (I don’t), it’s not an overpowering flavor.

Baked Mac & Cheese – ($14.00) – While this might be a common dish served at a lot of places, they do one thing different that makes theirs stand out.  It’s made with a 4-cheese blend, Cavatappi pasta, and a panko breadcrumb topping.  What makes this dish special?  They heat up a cast iron pan and bake the mac & cheese on it.  That means that it continues to cook the mac & cheese while you eat it which browns the cheese and gives it a nice crust on the bottom.  I know you understand what I’m talking about, because the dark crunchy bits of cheese around the edges are what we all want but never get enough of.

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake – ($6.00) – I’m a sucker for a good cheesecake, and this one was amazing!  It’s made with ricotta and is made in house by Shelley.  Even though it has a crack in it, I look at it as it was just showing me where to insert my fork and take my first bite.  The cheesecake was soft and delicate and not too sweet.  The browning on the top formed a little bit of a crust which added additional layer of texture and flavor.  The whipped cream was also made in house shortly after I place my order and it was fresh and light.

In Conclusion:

I have to be honest, I had reservations about this place before I even stepped in the door.  I’ve heard mixed reviews, so I did not know what to expect.  After meeting the owners and chatting with them, all of my worries went away and I knew the food and my experience would be exceptional.  If you like trying new places, then might I suggest you go and check out one of 14th Ave’s newest places and see for yourself!

Have you tried VB American Bar & Grill?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Atmosphere – 5 Forks

Service – 5 Forks

Food – 4 Forks

Rating Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

Website  |  Facebook 

Address1922 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Phone(772) 213-8888

Hours – Tuesday & Wednesday 4:00 pm till 9:00 pm, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 4:00 pm till 10:00 pm.  Closed Sunday and Monday