Where Locals Go

Vinny's

Review by Frank Geslani | Photos by Lorraine Haan-Stewart

Vinnyテ「冱 is all about the familiar: the gentle scent of garlic, faux grapevines on the far wall, a bowl of red sauce atop a white table cloth. Even the other patrons, who may be complete strangers, have an air of familiarity. It feels like that jaunty Italian joint from the old neighborhood, if that old neighborhood happened to be South Hackensack or Woodland Park. Vinnyテ「冱 comes to Trophy Club by way of New Jersey, and yet youテ「况e seen it, smelled it, tasted it, even heard it all before. And, thatテ「冱 what makes it so great.

You can tell within seconds of meeting Vinny Isprefi that he didnテ「冲 grow up around here. Thankfully heテ「冱 kept some of that East Coast swaggerテ「俳therwise we wouldnテ「冲 get the exultant Italian-American flavors that are unabashedly steeped in the big, bold red sauce tradition. He and his family (and itテ「冱 immediately apparent that this is a place where family reigns) have brought a touch of Jersey to our fair exurbsテ「蚤nd the results couldnテ「冲 be more comforting.

Readers have put Vinnyテ「冱 on our radar for quite some time now. They consistently rave about the gracious owners, the kid-friendly vibe, the generous portions, the fair prices. These days those factorsテ「巴eyond the quality of the foodテ「把an make or break a restaurant. But the food happens to be very good. All the favorites are represented on the menuテ「敗hrimp scampi, lasagna, chicken Marsala, eggplant parmテ「蚤nd executed with the kind of gusto youテ「囘 expect from an eatery where family pride is on the line.

Warm rolls. These can seal the deal for a lot of restaurants and Iテ「冦 sold on Vinnyテ「冱テ「廃illowy, not too dense and subtly aromatic. They come ready to dip into the house red sauce or a lively oil, garlic and herb mixture. It sets the tone for a great meal.

I would normally let my kids order spaghetti and meatballs while I try something more テ「徃rown up,テ「 but I canテ「冲 sell their version of this classic dish short. Hearty meatballs and al dente pasta evenly coated with marinara would make any dignified adult feel like they have rediscovered childhood.

The menu is delightfully uncomplicated. You could luxuriate in a rich lobster ravioli or crab-stuffed chicken breast from the specials board, but thereテ「冱 also something to be said for simplicity.

I took Vinny up on a recommendation, the chicken Sicilianaテ「蚤 bright, buttery alliance of artichoke, mushroom, and a shake or two of red pepper flakes. Its clean flavors accomplish a nifty trick. It allows you to graze on other dishes without being at odds with the other flavors. And if youテ「决e grazing, be sure thereテ「冱 some of the zingy penne arrabbiata on the table. Itテ「冱 a sort of yin to the Sicilianaテ「冱 yang.

Olive Garden may have trademarked the phrase テ「弩hen youテ「决e here, youテ「决e family,テ「 but where the chain co-opts it to fit into its marketing strategy, Vinnyテ「冱 exudes this credo organically. Youテ「决e completely at ease at Vinnyテ「冱, like visiting friends in the old neighborhood who always have something delicious ready in the kitchen in case you drop by. When youテ「决e here, thereテ「冱 familiarity.

Vinnyテ「冱テつ |テつ 2003 East Highway 114テつ |テつ Trophy Club 76262テつ |テつ (817) 490-7924テつ |テつ www.vinnysrest.com