Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Vinny's Pizza & Pasta

Vinny's Pizza & Pasta inhabits the old blink-and-you-may-have-missed it Hawaiian Deli & Smoothie building in Newport News. The thatched roof is still there, but the tropical pictures inside have been replaced by charming Italian-esque scenes, while the sneeze guard protects a variety of pizza pies.

My husband Dave and I popped by one early Thursday evening. In accordance with the sign, we seated ourselves at a booth in the rear. Within minutes, the waitress had been by to drop off paper menus and take our drink requests. She returned with Dave's unsweet iced tea ($1.59) and a Jones soda ($1.25) for me. After cheerfully answering a few questions, she left with our orders, hurrying to greet another couple in the rapidly filling room.

It wasn't long before the salad that accompanied my entree arrived. Stunningly fresh, crisp greens formed a bed for crisp cucumbers, red onions and black and green olives. I had a simple oil and vinegar dressing that fit the bill perfectly. The only downside was the bright red chunks of tomato, which -- having been refrigerated-- had been robbed of all flavor.

Along with the salad came the ubiquitous bread basket. Tender, golden, buttery garlic knots, dotted with flecks of parsley, made for a fine foray into carb country. The accompanying roll, made in-house, was neatly sliced and quite tasty.

The waitress had warned Dave that the large Italian stromboli ($11.95) was enormous. Even so, we both gasped when she hauled this massive, burnished beauty forth. Easily taking up half the available space on a pizza tray, it came with a small portion of tomato sauce for dipping.

The mixture of Genoa salami, cooked salami, capicolla, mozzarella, onions and pepperoni were rich and delightful, the golden crust perfectly cooked and crisp. Once the slightly overpowering slices of green pepper were removed, it was pretty close to perfect.

After much deliberation, I ordered the baked ziti ($9.95). It arrived in a more-than-generous portion, dotted with flecks of parsley and parmesan. A gooey, soft layer of mozzarella blanketed the short, tubular pasta. It, too, was tender to the tooth and made for a most enjoyable combination. The tomato sauce, a touch bland for my taste, perked right up with the judicious use of salt and some crushed red pepper.

All in all, a very satisfying dish. Fighting food comas, Dave and I requested boxes and the bill.

We've been by multiple times for their pizza. The thin-crusted cheese and pepperoni are basic, if a bit flat.

What really shines is their varied line of gourmet slices. I tried a vegetable-heavy slice of white pizza. Cooked to well, as requested, it was the perfect combination of bright green broccoli, diced tomatoes and mushrooms. Dave tried a slice of the cheesesteak pizza (the best of both worlds, just don't tell your doctor what you had for lunch!) and the taco pizza (interesting, but not really his taste, mainly due to the wilted lettuce.)

When our oven at home exploded in the midst of a dinner party recently, the guys headed over to Vinny's drive-through window to pick up our call-in order. We girls went for the medium white capri ($11.95). This sauceless pie had gooey mozzarella, wilted spinach, broccoli and chopped tomatoes. While it definitely hit the spot that night, I later discovered that the leftover slices were very easy to freeze, then re-heat to crisp perfection at a later day.

The guys ordered a large Vinny's Special Toppings ($15.95). Pepperoni, sausage and meatballs made for a very rich and hearty entree, but the meat toppings were tempered with chunks of mushroom, onions and black olives. Although there was some left over, it mysteriously disappeared from the refrigerator in the middle of the night.

Vinny, son Mose Schiano and wife Brittany come from Philly, where their other restaurants have become neighborhood favorites. When I asked Mose what brought him to Newport News, he replied, "I looked around for a long time, then this place finally came open. I wanted to bring in something different, and there wasn't anything else quite like this."

Well, now there is, and judging by the bustling business, it's just what the Peninsula has been looking for.

Alcoholic Beverages Beer and wine (Will be available 6/4/07)
Atmosphere 3 (of 5) stars
Cuisine American, Italian, Pizza, Subs/Sandwiches
Food 3 (of 5) stars
Noise rating Somewhat noisy when busy
Payment Method Credit cards
Price Range $$ (Average entree $10-15)
Service 3 (of 5) stars
Specials Carry Out, Smoke-free, Vegetarian
Wheelchair Access Yes


Blogger Suzanne said...

YUM - I'm definitely going to have to stop for a visit at Vinny's! Suz

1:13 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I just LOVE the pic of the sign--it reminds me of those little mom n' pop pizza joints that are all over RI where I grew up. Boy, could I go for a pizza right now. Seriously.

4:21 PM  

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