If you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, then you shouldn’t judge a restaurant by its storefront either. Doing so might mean that you’d miss out on the homey, comforting dishes served at Vinny’s at Night in East Somerville.
The outside of the eatery at 76 Broadway doesn’t look like much, but one whiff of the aromas wafting out of the tiny restaurant makes that easy to overlook. Vinny’s serves casual breakfasts and lunches during the day and turns into a white tablecloth Italian dining room at night.
On a recent Friday, the small bar was packed with regulars. If you want to see a slice of old Somerville, Vinny’s is the place to find it. While it draws a diverse crowd, you can tell some of the people at neighboring tables have been eating at Vinny’s for decades.
And after dining there, it’s easy to see why. I’d had samples of Vinny’s delights at various Somerville tasting events over the years, but had somehow never been in for a full meal. Now that I have, I know I’ll be back soon.
One bite of the Vinny’s arancini and I was in heaven. The crisp exterior broke open to reveal a warm, moist inside stuffed with peas and mushrooms that paired perfectly with the restaurant’s marinara sauce. The stuffed artichoke, a special that day, was tender and flavorful. Both served their purpose as appetizers well, once they were gone, we couldn’t wait for the main course.
After going back and forth over the many entrees available–from pasta dishes and seafood specialities to chicken and veal classics, there’s a lot on offer–we decided on dinner. The eggplant special (similar to eggplant parmesan, but with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach added) with angel hair pasta called my name, while my dining companion ordered the shrimp puttanesca with Vinny’s homemade fusilli.
Both were absolutely delicious and would be difficult not to order again except for the fact that Vinny’s menu is extensive and has many appetizing choices. My eggplant was fried but not at all greasy and the pops of sun-dried tomato gave it such a bright flavor. The homemade fusilli was tender and the puttanesca was the best I’ve ever had. It had all the salty, briny flavors I love without overpowering the delicate shrimp.
The portions at Vinny’s are sizable, so we boxed up some of our meals to save room for dessert. I’d had my eye on the homemade tiramisu all night and it more than exceeded my expectations. It had the perfect balance of flavors and texture and paired well with the cappuccino we ordered alongside it.
In addition to its savory delights, Vinny’s also has a great wine list with many tasty, affordable options. The service was prompt and pleasant and the atmosphere was both relaxing and vibrant. And a meal at Vinny’s, even with appetizers, dessert and alcohol, won’t break the bank. It’s got great value and the leftovers might be even better the next day for lunch. But don’t take my word for it, try one of Somerville’s hidden gems for yourself.