From the outside Vinny’s on Windward looks not unlike the Alamo — a fortress of fusilli standing tall against the onslaught of honking SUV’s.
The inside, as you can see in the picture at left, is a monumental expanse of brick and gleaming granite, with amphora-sized baskets and mullioned glass partitions both offsetting the grandeur and bringing it down to a human scale.
I actually took this snapshot for my notes, for details to describe how the Sedgwick Restaurant Group has worked to infuse this big-box space with Italian rusticity.
But then I also saw it served as an apt metaphor for the menu, which has a big-box, something-for-everyone attitude with an overlay of Italian sensibility. There are pears and pecans in the arugula salad, and the zuppa di pesce contains clams, cream, potato and bacon. Come si dice? Clam chowder?
Vinny’s attracts a big Northside power lunch crowd — so much so that the adjacent parking lot fills and smart cookies know to keep on heading down to the office park next door and walk across the grassy strip separating the two lots.
We loved our starter (at left). Here’s a ball of Vermont burrata with sweet grilled zucchini, peppers and onion, a drizzle of aged balsamic and a side of grilled bread.
How nice to have a whole, perfectly gushy burrata to cut into. As good as the cheese is, the grilled veggies stole the show.
We liked our entrees well enough, some components more than others.
Chicken scaloppine (at right) are tender slips of pan-fried chicken. It’s such a nice way to ingest a gentle amount of protein. This preparation is a lost skill in today’s restaurant culture. I didn’t mind the unannounced butter sauce that came with the garnish of lemon, capers, olives and tomato. I did mind the unannounced canned artichoke hearts, being their brassy selves. Though you can’t see it in the picture, there are some spinach ravioli on the bottom, evidently homemade but so rawish and gummy they might have gone right from fridge to plate.
The gnocchi here are softer and more appealing than the ones I wrote about yesterday, though we could have done without the bland veal-ricotta meatballs on top. Where oh where do you find good gnocchi in a local restaurant? Please help me.
I have to mention our waiter, Mr. Rick, who has been with the company for 16 years and is a total hoot. He’s the kind of guy who successfully pushes bottles of wine at lunch (though we resisted) and puts a hand on your shoulder as he talks to you. I’m not 100% sure I needed to hear his assessment of the Affordable Care Act, but next time I go to Vinny’s I’m asking for his section. Atlanta needs more waiters like Mr. Rick.