Monday, June 2, 2008

Vincenzo's Italian Ristorante

Restaurant: Vincenzo's Italian Ristorante (Midtown)
Address: 7605 Pacific St
Genres: Italian
Check Constraints: No separate checks.
Chain: Regional. | More Omaha Locations: Yes.

  • Iced Tea ($1.50)
  • Carciofi Farciti ($8.95)
  • Penne Diavolo ($10.95)
Though Vincenzo's is a fairly well-known regional chain (with two other Omaha locations and one in Lincoln), this appears to be the Vincenzo's everyone forgot. It's not on the website, and even though that hasn't been updated since 2006 I can find reference to this location having existed before that. Since Vincenzo's has different menus for each location, that makes figuring out what you want in advance a little hard. Additionally, the prices are off on the menus, which makes sense if the website really hasn't been touched in two years.

The building itself echoes this neglected feel. The smell when you walk in is, we all agreed, "musty". The tables are pocked with wears in the veneer, and I'm pretty sure the dim lighting was the only thing saving the place from looking worse, but as it was it looked like a mafioso hangout gone south. All of this was a large shame because, you know what? I really liked the food.

Carciofi farciti was a new dish on me; Google tells me it means "stuffed artichoke". In this case, it was stuffed with a pimento, lemon, olive, and red pepper paste, and then breaded and fried. It was an interesting flavor, but I'm a large fan of artichokes and wound up liking it a lot. We also tried their garlic bread, but I'll let ND and the rest expound on that. The Penne Diavolo was delicious - spicy sausage, sweet red peppers, black olives, mushrooms, and penne pasta in a marinara sauce with a touch of cream, as the menu says. It was perhaps a tad small for the cost, but I'm definitely glad I got it. I'd be interested in going back to see how they approached some of the slightly more traditional dishes - from mine and the other guys' meals, they apparently don't shy away from cream or butter in the search for flavor here, and I can get behind that, though I bet my doctor can't.

All in all, it was a good meal. Though the place wasn't packed while we were there, it was far from empty, so it's clear other people share that opinion as well. At some point we may hit another of their locations, though we've got a lot of restaurants to get through before we start repeating.

  • Iced Tea ($1.50)
  • Blackened Parmesan Chicken Breast on Angel Hair (Special, $10.95)
  • Garlic Cheese Bread ($6.95)
This place was really gloomy, and all the tables were sorta spotlighted. It really did feel sorta like a dilapidated mob joint. I'm not sure what to make of that. Cham's right, though, the food is very worth it. I had never before tried artichoke hearts, let alone done this way. The taste was strange, but not bad. The garlic bread, on the other hand, was premium. Nearly as good, if not on par with, the amazing bread at Brazen Head. As near we can tell, they take uncooked bread dough, slather the inside with garlic and butter, then fold it in half, sealing the garlic and butter inside. Sprinkle the top with more butter and herbs, and then bake and cover generously with cheese. The whole loaf is served uncut, hot, and delicious, and is well worth the cost.

I don't think the blackened Parmesan chicken had a specific dish name, but it really deserves one. I'm not a huge fan of angel hair pasta, I'm more a fettuccine guy, but that didn't matter so much. The sauce was supposed to be a cream/garlic/lemon sauce, but I couldn't taste any lemon, so the overall effect was basically Alfredo without the parmesan. The real star, though, was the chicken. It was a large chicken breast, done to juicy perfection, wrapped in breading that consisted almost entirely of Parmesan cheese. I cannot adequately describe how absolutely delicious this breading was, and when combined with the chicken and pasta, it made the whole thing absolutely worth not grabbing my standby of chicken alfredo.

  • Chicken Soto ($10.95)
I thought the artichoke appetizer was good, but it may not be for everyone. It had a somewhat sharp taste and the red pepper sauce was something you don't see every day. The garlic bread was amazing though. It wasn't dry like a typical garlic bread, and it was very cheesy.

The chicken soto was a new thing for me. It was a chicken breast with that cream/garlic/lemon sauce and their provel cheese (that seems to be on a large number of dishes). It seemed somewhat small on the plate, but then it was the only thing on the plate. I'd give it a good 5 or 6 ounces of chicken though, and it was swimming in the sauce. There was a reasonable sized plate of steamed, lightly seasoned, and possibly buttered vegetables on the side as well. It felt a little small for the price, but it just about the right portion size in the end.

  • Soda Pop ($1.50)
  • Fettucini Alfredo con Pollo ($9.95)
I echo everyone's sentiments on the Garlic Bread. It wasn't the typical toasted Italian bread with garlic butter slathered on top. It was slathered with their Provel cheese and would be better termed Cheesey (garlic) Bread. There was no way that the bread wasn't baked in house.

My Fettucini Alfredo con Pollo was ok. The noodles were cooked very well. The chicken was juicy and spiced wonderfully. Usually, I'm a big fan of alfredo and a big fan of garlic, however, this just didn't do it for me. The sauce was noticeably sour. Cham tasted it and claimed that they just went overboard on the garlic and butter in the sauce, but I don't know. It didn't taste as much over-garlicked as it did just sour. I wouldn't order it again, especially since the portion was a little small.

  • Chicken Soto ($10.95)
  • Chocolate Cannoli ($4.95)
I also was in the 'boy, that artichoke thing is weird, but not bad' camp, myself. Might have been the pimento. Might just be an acquired taste. The garlic bread was pretty good, even though I got the butt-end of it so I don't think I got as much cheese.

The Chicken Soto, which I didn't realize Jay got as well until the plates came, came with some very enjoyable mixed vegetation, squash/zucchini, broccoli, few other things. The dish itself had a very good butter/garlic/lemon sauce, with just the right hint of lemon to be intriguing without being overpoweringly ew. The mushrooms did a good job of carrying and adding to the flavor of the dish, and the chicken was well cooked.

The desert, as I was the only one left with space, was actually very good with one odd caveat (which I didn't give them the chance to address as we were already out the door when I figured it out.) It was filled with a very good mousse, in a hard chocolate shell, with whipped cream, and caramel and raspberry sauces drizzeled over it. However, there was an odd small segment in it where the mousse had gone bad. Cham theorized possibly a bad bit of cream. A one-off sad end to what was otherwise a very delicious (almost decadent) meal. And I don't know what those guys were complaining about with respect to atmosphere. You'd think they'd never been to a non-tie-based italian restaurant before.

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