Digging into some hearty Italian fare at Vinnie’s Pasta Bar

I haven’t been going out to eat much lately. Well, that’s not entirely true… But I haven’t gone anywhere exciting or new in a while, thus, I haven’t been chronicling my more mundane dining adventures. My bad. I’ll try and get out more, k?

Last week, Kevin asked me on a date. (He’s going to kill me for writing that). I mean, we don’t really date anymore. We live together (the jig is up, folks) and we go out to eat often… does it really count as a date every time we leave the house together? “Oh, let’s go on a date to the grocery store to get some milk!” Nah. Not much allure or romance there… Still, every once in a while, we plan a nice night out together. He asked where I wanted to go, and after some consideration, I settled on pasta. Not wanting to get all tarted up, Il Merc and Bicycle Thief were off the table, but Vinnie’s Pasta Bar was not.

With a casual, laid back atmosphere and rustic Italian dishes, Vinnie’s is kind of the perfect place to go for a quiet and relaxed dinner with your partner or a friend. But be forewarned: it’s a small dining room, and tables are at a premium on the weekend, so if you want to go on a Friday or Saturday night, you really should make a reservation.

But when I suggested pasta to Kevin, he made a funny face, and explained that he doesn’t really like to go out for pasta, because it’s something that isn’t hard to make at home. :|

Yep. I made that face. Making “pasta” is one thing. Making *good* pasta is another thing completely. Vinnie’s does *good* pasta; rest assured, it ain’t East Side Mario’s.

With dim lighting, simple and somewhat rustic decor, and butcher paper on the tables, this is a place to settle in, get comfortable and mange! without worrying about splashing a bit of your red wine. I happened to know our lovely server that evening, which may have been why our service felt personal and was so spot-on.

We started with a loaf of their freshly baked bread, which we slathered with whipped butter (mmmm carbs) and happily devoured while we perused the menus.

Once we were informed that their calamari was the best in the city, we felt obliged to try it. They aren’t lying, folks. Rather than the standard (somewhat boring) take on this go-to appetizer, Vinnie’s preparation involves a mango tomato sauce, so the dish is sweet with some definite heat. The calamari itself is still breaded, so you lose the *crunch* a bit once it’s tossed in the sauce, but I didn’t mind that at all, especially since it wasn’t the least bit rubbery.

For mains, I decided to go with the Mediterranean Linguine (plump shrimp, peppers, and feta) because I thought it sounded somewhat healthy (right? right), and Kevin opted for the daily special, with was tiger shrimp in a carbonara sauce, served on linguine and topped with a 5 oz. striploin steak.

Both of us mopped up the dregs of our dishes, and slipped into a carb coma with smiles on our faces.

Vinnie's Pasta Bar on Urbanspoon

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