Sunday, May 1, 2016

Two visits to Vito's

Vito's has two branches in my part of CT: Vito's by the Park, in Hartford, and Vito's by the Water, in Windsor. I recently had the opportunity to eat at both places and I liked them enough to sit down and write a review.

Vito's by the Park is on a major street in Hartford, just a few blocks from The Bushnell. There's construction going on at a neighboring intersection, which makes parking a bit tricky. Fortunately my friend had been there before and guided us to convenient on-street parking at Pearl Street. Five of us went to dinner on a Tuesday night, before catching "Matilda" at the Bushnell. Nobody had an appetizer. The bread basket was really good: it had focaccia and plain rolls served with a sundried tomato spread.

I ordered the house special, which is a Chocolate Truffle Pappardelle Bolognese made with chocolate truffle pasta. The pasta was a dark brown and paired perfectly with a meaty red sauce. On top was a generous scoop of ricotta and a small heap of gremolata. I adored it and everyone else who tried it also though it was impressive.

My friends ordered the lobster ravioli (very good), the osso bucco (out of this world), the spaghetti carbonara (also very good), and a gluten-free pizza with shrimp and bacon (she said it was fabulous). We then had too much time before the show started, so we split a chocolate lava cake, a tiramisu, and a gluten-free chocolate cake, all of which were excellent.

Yesterday we took our family to Vito's by the Water. Recommendations are absolutely required for the weekend: the bar was heaving at 5pm and half the tables were already filled. By the time we left at 6:20, the place was nearly full. If you call early enough you can request a table with a view. We didn't get a table right by the window, but were still able to appreciate the water, the sunlight, and the pair of geese swimming past us.

They served the same bread basket with a similar but not quite identical spread: the waitress said that this one had anchovies, feta, and tomato paste. We got the Flatbread of the Day, which was described as "Caprese style" - in our opinion it had far too many onions and not enough mozzerella, but the frisee on the side was a big hit.

I had the same dish as last time. I thought the execution was slightly better the second time: the pasta was truly al dente and the ricotta scoop was more generous. The rest of the party had the hangar steak (very good), the haddock special over corn and sweet pea risotto (well executed but slightly too salty), the classic carbonara (a huge hit), and the porchetta (another huge hit). Service was a little slow but our waitress was a gem and offered a second bread basket to keep us going. We had to leave early - I had work - so we didn't linger for dessert.

Would we go back? Absolutely! I was impressed by how well the staff handled our party and another party that had very small children. The food was done well and reasonably priced. (Most entrees $18-28, specials slightly more.)