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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Vinny’s on Windward

IMG_7781From 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. IMG_7775

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.

IMG_7777Chicken 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.

IMG_7780Oh, and I finished with this perfect Illy espresso. Now that’s Italian.

10 comments Add your comment

Grandview

July 30th, 2013
1:02 pm

Where oh where do you find good gnocchi in a local restaurant?
The best I can recall in Atlanta was at La Grotta.
But I don’t eat a lot of Italian.
So don’t listen to me.

Mark

July 30th, 2013
2:15 pm

Cakes & Ale, when they have it

Jadzia

July 30th, 2013
3:03 pm

Last week I had some fluffy delectable gnocchi in the most unlikely of places – Barcelona in Inman Park. Was there for the biodynamic wine dinner, the chef prepared gnocchi with just a hint of iberico ham – yum!

JP

July 30th, 2013
4:56 pm

I had some excellent gnocchi at 246 on Saturday night, with a Pork sugo. soft and melt in your mouth.

Art

July 31st, 2013
8:31 am

JK, thanks for venturing out to the “boonies”. The Sedgwick Group has provided quality restaurants OTP for over 20 years; Van Gogh’s was the place to go back in the early “pioneer days”. While there may now be more authentic Mom-and-Pop Italian joints all-over, Vinny’s does a more than passable job. The gnocchi at La Grotta Buckhead are very good!

Anne

July 31st, 2013
9:36 am

The rabbit gnocchi at La Tavola is DIVINE! I also really enjoyed the Ravioli Nudi (spinach and ricotta gnocchi) at Sotto Sotto.

FoodFan

July 31st, 2013
11:48 am

Great gnocchi was recently had at the new Saltyard (in the Brookwood) — being as the owners are a branch of the La Grotta team, I am seconding Grandview’s comments above.

I also love the spring vegetable (meatless, John!) gnocchi at Floataway Café. Served in an iron skillet with asparagus & other fresh veggies, they get a little crispy on one side & it adds a great texture to a sometimes-one note dish.

Ann

August 1st, 2013
7:52 pm

The gnochhi at Bistro VG, which is served with Cremini mushrooms, was really good when we tried it. It’s a small plate dish there and was sauted a little crispy.

Melissa

August 2nd, 2013
6:36 am

The Pistachio Biscotti are wonderful, especially if you get a bowl of whipped cream to dip them into. The bar makes a wonderful Long Island Iced tea (hard to do).
The lamb is wonderful with its blackberry reduction gravy and shitake mushroom mash.

I wish this restaurant was closer – but it is worth the drive for us!

ErwinsCat

August 4th, 2013
11:25 am

Where oh where do you find good gnocchi in a local restaurant? Please help me.
—————–
Europe…seriously, outside of my own, i’ve never found good gnocchi in the states…thanks for the dinner idea though