Vingenzo’s Neopolitan Cuisine
Remember I mentioned about this nice Italian place that we were planning to go to until P expressed a desire to eat something fiery and sinus-opening? So that place was Vingenzo’s. And we went last evening. Short and sweet verdict: Excellent.
For a Tuesday evening, the place was bustling and crackling. Our server mentioned too that it was a busy night. The restaurant was almost full, each table filled with happy diners, relishing the last few days of 2010. Thankfully, we had called ahead and reserved a table, although I’d think that on a regular Tuesday, it should be simple getting a table even without reservations.
We started off with a plate of Caprese. It featured roasted cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. Fairly nice, I thought. The cheese was a little stringy but soft, nonetheless. The roasted cherry tomatoes exploded lightly in the mouth, a nice sweet-sour combination. They also served some balsamic vinegar (?) and salad greens to go along.
We got the Verdure Arrostite pizza and the Gnocchi al Gorgonzola Dolce Spinach. Nice, nice, nice! We visited NY a couple of months back and ended up eating pizza at this authentic Italian place (can’t recall the name but it was on Bleeker Street, maybe?). It was a Margherita, if I remember right. Tomatoes, cheese, basil on a flatbread base. The flavors were fresh, the cheese was bubbling and the base was crisp. Then P ended up going to NYC for an office trip and he came back with a gigantic slice of pizza from Grimaldi’s. That was fabulous too. Fresh tomatoes, basil, red peppers, olives… if I recall correctly. Oh, it was one delightful pizza slice. Let me just say, eating pizza at these Italian joints totally ruins the experience of getting takeout from any of the regular American pizza places. Well, I do like the regular American pizza loaded with cheese and tomato sauce, all on a thick base, just once in a rare while. But when you sample a slice of pizza at an authentic Italian place, you realize that you can walk away feeling light and not like you have a stone in your stomach, weighing you down… Know what I mean?
The Verdure Arrostite featured wood fire roasted vegetables (eggplant, onions, maybe red peppers?), roasted cherry tomatoes, latte fresco mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil and aged Parmigiana Reggiano. Let me say upfront that I don’t know what latte fresco mozzarella is but I can say that this was one of the lightest and tastiest pizzas I have ever eaten. I almost wish that they had a more generous serving of cheese on it…
The Gnocchi was rich and creamy – pretty heavenly, I thought! The potato dumplings were so nicely done, none of the “doughy” texture, and perfectly soaking up the cheese and cream. The spinach was beautifully cooked too; it didn’t have the raw look-feel but it wasn’t wilted at all! The portion size was perfect – Can you imagine eating a bowl of potato dumplings with Gorgonzola cream sauce and spinach without feeling like you need a couch to nap on afterward?
Dessert? Pistachio gelato (for P) and a flourless Chocolate Almond Cake for me. Pure yumminess. The gelato tasted of toasted pistachios and it was a perfect combination of rich creaminess and subtle sweetness. As for the flourless cake, it only tasted better (if that’s possible even) this afternoon.
The menu has multiple options for vegetarians, an assortment of gelato flavors, a cool and casual vibe, and nice staff. I can see us going there again. And again.
At Vingenzo’s where it ends on a sweet note
Visited Vingenzo’s again. Last weekend, if I remember right. P got an email from them informing about the special of the day – Roasted Sweet Potato Gnocchi Sage Hazelnut Butter. Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? So off we went. Besides, our last dining experience there was so good that I’d have been game going to Vingenzo’s anyway.
I suppose it was Friday night because the restaurant was full. Thankfully, we got a table pretty soon. Not that I’d have minded waiting. I love the cheery vibe of this place. As we were waiting, we thought we would get something to drink. From the non-alcoholic drinks menu, we picked the Limoncello. The youthful bartender told us that it was a lemonade-y drink with fresh basil infused. Sad to say, I couldn’t discern any flavors of basil. Tasted like a regular lemonade, and a tad too tart for me to enjoy…
This time, we decided to pick something from the mozzarella bar. I wish I could remember what kind of cheese we got. It was possibly Bufala (buffalo mozzarella, I suppose?), light and stringy. It came with roasted cherry tomatoes, peppers and capers. Missed taking a picture of the lovely platter. Hmmm, maybe they drizzled some balsamic vinegar alongside too. Very delicious, simple and flavorful.
We had to get the special, didn’t we? We also ordered a basic Margharita Pizza. San Marzano tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil. Verdict? The pizza was good. As always, the base was thin and crispy. The cheese was half-melted, ready to flow out of the pizza! A little too stringy, I thought. Tasty, nonetheless.
Our daily special? Kinda disappointing! The flavors were predominantly sweet, lacked any other contrasting flavor. We asked for some freshly ground pepper which made a little bit of a difference. The flavor of sage could hardly be detected in the midst of all that sweetness. The gnocchi was sprinkled with hazelnuts, so at least there was a crunch to the dish. Disappointing and expensive ($19), I thought.
Thankfully, dessert salvaged the rest of the meal. Chocolate hazelnut gelato, YUM! Not very dark, neither too bitter nor sweet… perfectly creamy and rich. Loved it.
I suppose I should mention that more often than not, buffalo mozzarella is made using animal rennet. At least, that has been my experience whenever I have gone out looking to buy it. Besides, I am 99% sure that most cheese that comes from Italy uses animal rennet. Let me just say that sometimes, super-soft buffalo mozzarella makes this vegetarian a little weak in her knees.