By Claudia Lutzky
Villaggio Trattoria in Pelham has a beautiful new façade – with the same wonderful food and people inside. Joe and Franco have been running the place since 1988 – first as a pizza parlor and then added the restaurant next door in 1991. Later came the cozy bar in 1914. Each and every incarnation making it more a part of the fabric of the neighborhood than before. People are very particular about their pizza and in Pelham, Villaggio is the “only” slice for some residents.
The lunch is as much or as little as you like. Choose from a large variety of Paninis: Grilled Chicken, Sausage & Broccoli Rabe, Mozzarella and Prosciutto, or Breaded Veal Cutlet with Roasted Peppers. Naturally all the house pastas are available: Linguine alla Vongole, Fettuccini Alfredo, Farfallette with Shrimp, Fusilli Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara and the perfect Lasagna al Forno. You can always fall back on the standards like Veal Scallopine or Veal Cutlet Parmigiana. Lunch prices are a huge bargain.
Dinner starts with a tray of fresh Focaccia slices paired with a wonderful trio of olive oil and olive dips. The flavors are so well matched, you’ll find yourself going back for more. Entrees are served with a lovely house salad. Choose your dressing or have a side of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Appetizers are the decadent part of the meal – they all sound so good, it’s impossible to resist. The Hot Antipasto gives you a little taste of many of the house specialties including clams, stuffed eggplant, shrimp and mushrooms. Guests keep coming back for the Fried Calamari because it is one of those dishes you crave, days after the meal. The best strategy is to get a couple different plates to share at the table.
While the entrees range the entire Italian Restaurant gamut, the fish seems exceptionally fresh and the chef cooks each dish to perfection – never overdone or dry. Veal and chicken are prepared many different ways, and the variety of pastas is astounding. Pasta Fresca like the Canneloni (made fresh) with a filling of veal, meat and spinach is a stellar choice. The meal pairs perfectly with many of the well-priced wines. In the rear of the dining room, there is a large walk-in Wine Chiller stocked with a red, white and rosé wines both vintage and table varieties.
No matter how full you get, do not miss the house Cannoli. As a last resort, take it home. It has a super light and crunchy shell and the filling is billowy perfection, sweet, but not too sweet. They also make a mean Cappuccino.
Franco and Joe have long been supporters of the town’s events. Every high school and middle school student and teacher has eaten lunch there many times. It’s one of the places kids go to when they come home after graduation. The chef has graciously shared the recipe for the filling of the Canneloni. He suggests you buy a store-bought shell, they have so many good ones at the market, dry and fresh. The restaurant is closed for vacation the first week of August, and opens again on Monday, August 7.
229 Wolfs Lane, Pelham