Tucked away in City Market are quite a few restaurants (Woody’s, Big Ed’s, Batisttella’s) along with the classic Vic’s Italian Restaurant. Sidewalk seating, café interior, you can smell the garlic as you approach which sounds about right to me for an Italian place! So finally I was able to stop in for a visit at this Raleigh institution.
Vic’s location in City Market adds to the overall feel to the restaurant. Step along the cobblestone streets as you head over to Vic’s and it’s sidewalk awning. Metal patio tables line the sidewalk and families are happily chatting and enjoying an early dinner. Inside, Vic’s has a pretty casual feel with polished light woods, old-school Italian pictures and paintings. A hostess shows us out to a sidewalk table and the wait-staff is moving quickly in and out of the space. The menu is a laminated two-sider with all the classic Italian apps, salads and pastas along with their great pizzas. I’ve done their pizza before as take-out and they are solid. I go with a Penne alla Vecchia Roma along with a small pizza to share.
Wine at Vic’s is reasonably priced at $6 – $8 a glass along with a smaller list of craft beers. I have a glass while my dining mate grabs a salad. Service is pretty leisurely at Vic’s which was a challenge since we were headed off to a concert. About 15 minutes later, the pizza and my pasta shows up and it all looks quite nice. Vic’s pizza is more of a standard, Italian: medium, thickish crust with a tangy, tomato sauce. Nicely melted cheese and tasty meat on top makes for a nice slice but not NY-style. And my pasta is a hefty portion with sausage crumbles, wilted broccoli and lots of garlic and oil. Probably a bit too oily for me, there’s a pool at the bottom of the plate. But thankfully the penne is cooked al dente so nice job there.
So when you look at Vic’s interior and menu you can tell it’s a family-run place for families. Mostly familiar Italian staples at reasonable prices ($12 – $16) in a comfortable casual setting. The customers I saw last night tell the story. But that’s also the challenge when I look at Vic’s because I’m pretty sure they use boxed pasta and a lot of what they cook up (outside of pizza), I could replicate at home. So while it may not be exciting or trendy, Vic’s Ristorante Italiano dishes out safe and tasty comfort food for all. And that’s good enough on lots of night, bonno appetito!