by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine
For my next tasting experience, I head back to Downtown Vero once again, and this time to a place that has been around for over 21 years. I think by now if you are a regular reader and follower of Vero Beach Foodie, you know that we are huge fans of Italian cuisine, so I was definitely anxious to check this place out. My wife and I arrived one evening on a Friday night and the place was stuffed with a line out the door. We were starving, so we decided not to wait and come back another time when they were not as busy. We decided a late Thursday afternoon would be best and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. With so many Italian eateries to choose from in Vero, they must be doing something right to keep the crowds coming back again and again.
Located on 14th Avenue directly across from Pocahontas Park, they are at the end of the building that also has the Pocahontas Apartments in it. They do not have their own parking lot, but there is usually plenty of parking spots on the street within a quick walking distance to the restaurant. Approaching the front of the restaurant they do have a few café tables out front if you wish to dine outside. Upon entry into the restaurant, it’s quite large and can handle quite a few diners. The walls are painted green with green hanging lamps over the tables along the outside walls. The owner Ralph came over to greet us and our server took our drink orders.
Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!
Fried Calamari – ($7.25) – Fried to a light golden brown and served with a rich marinara sauce, these were quite delicious! The coating on the outside was light and crispy, and the rings of calamari were very tender. The marinara sauce was rich and had a bold tomato flavor. I think this is some of the best calamari I’ve had anywhere in town.
Bruschetta – ($7.99) – When they sat this dish down on the table, the first thing we noticed was the wonderful aroma of the fresh tomatoes and basil! The tomato mixture had large chunks of fresh tomato, olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. The bread was perfectly toasted with just a slight crunch on the outside and still soft in the middle. It was very good!
Antipasto Salad – ($6.99) – Just for reference, this is the EXTRA SMALL version of this salad. Stacy Cook has mentioned to me how good this salad is several times, and I’m glad they chose to serve it to us because I’ve been wanting to try it. The plate is piled high with lettuce, tomato, onion, pepperoncini’s, black olives, and large chunks of cheese and several different Italian meats. Their in-house Italian dressing was served alongside. Everything was very fresh and it’s definitely a very filling salad. If I ordered this myself, I’m sure I would be taking some of it home. The dressing had a slight sweetness to it, with a little bite on the back end from the vinegar. I’ll definitely be heading back for this salad again!
Shrimp Scampi – ($14.50) – Such a simple dish, but oh so good! It’s made with a white wine garlic butter sauce, served over pasta, topped with 4 shrimp, and garnished with basil leaves. The sauce was rich and buttery with a little kick of flavor from the white wine. The pasta, as well as the shrimp, were cooked and seasoned to perfection! A smaller portion was presented to us for the review.
Chicken Francese – ($14.40) – I’ve read about this dish before but never had a chance to try it, so I was excited when they brought it out. It’s made with fried chicken breasts cooked in a light lemon, white wine and butter sauce with pasta on the side. The chicken was perfectly cooked and seasoned, but the coating was not as crunchy as I had hoped it would be. The sauce was bright from the lemon and white wine and was very good. A smaller portion was presented to us for the review.
Cannoli – ($3.99) – A true classic Italian dessert was presented to us to complete our meal. The cannoli shell was rich and crunchy and the filling had chocolate chips in it but they only seemed to add some color to the filling because it was very smooth. The plate was garnished with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar. A great way to round out a fantastic meal!
I went into this review expecting the usual Italian fare such as pizza, pasta with red sauce, fettuccini alfredo, but I was surprised and definitely welcomed the change from the normal Italian cuisine served at most other places around town. Now don’t get me wrong, I dearly love the classics and they do serve them here, but it’s nice to know you have the option for something a little bit different. Everything was fresh and made from scratch as you order it, so I totally understand why this place has been here for 21 years and has such a following. If you have not had the pleasure of dining here yet, I highly recommend you give them a try.
Atmosphere – 4 Forks
Service – 5 Forks
Food – 4 Forks
Rating Scale Legend:
1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent