For every time I freak out over a tracer gas test in the NYC subway or a mass mobilization of police over an Occupy May Day protest, there is a restaurant somewhere in Brooklyn singing the siren song of deliciousness to keep me from falling too far from the Big Apple. That, and New York is bitchin’ cool.
This week, I visited Vesuvio’s, Bay Ridge’s own “Neapolitan home-style cooking in a comfortable family friendly dinning atmosphere.” That’s like calling a Ducati Monster 796, the don of naked streetbikes, a”motorized scooter.”
First of all, Vesuvio is freaking gorgeous. The spacious wood booths, unobtrusive tiled floors and tastefully simple artwork of, what else, wine, are what tie together the spacious pizza parlor and the luxurious dining room. Check out the cheeky blackboard signage over their pizza ovens! Few Italian places pull off the classical partition enough to fully separate the two dining experiences, yet at Vesuvio, there is a distinct, yet blended style separation to justify the tip for table service. The staff has always been top-notch whether at the counter or with their well-trained busboys and waiters; it’s the best of both worlds, with the Brooklyn Italian attitude at the front and helpful, saavy foodie in the back. I am ashamed to say, I rather gave my waitstaff of the evening some guff, as my mouth was too full of nommy pizza to give their efforts justice. That is, to say, I grunted my aggression like some throwback caveman when a busboy offered to pack my food. Gurr! Arr!
Oh? What’s that? You want to hear more about the delicious nom noms? By all means! Where shall I begin? From their crunchy, chewy pizza crust? Their fresh, crisp bruschetta and calamari? How about the dizzying selection of pastas and gnocchi, in the savory sauce of your choice? I recommend the marsala, or the vodka sauce for the vegetarian palate. Frankly, vegans might try making Italian at home, as there’s simply no replacement for a good cheese. On my most recent visit, there looked to be a delectable risotto special, as well as a simply pan-fried tilapia with lemon, potatoes and spinach. Our treat for the night, however, has to be the massive wheel of toppings they pass off as the Vesuvio pizza. At around 18 bucks a pop, these gargantuan pizzas are loaded down with pepperoni, peppers, flat sausage and onions, yet manage to stay together in a tile of gut-busting rapture Dante would have been proud of. I haven’t even gotten to the nutty-sweet tortonis, or the tall, jitter-inducing cappuccinos yet.
Laying it on a bit thick? My bad. I always get a wonderful warm feeling from an Italian meal with the real Italian family spirit. There’s nothing fancy here, really, and that’s the secret. No reductions, no sauces to break at the drop of a water molecule, just wholesome nourishment from things like mozzarella, tomatoes, and pork shoved into its own butt. There, my foodie friends, is the most articulate way of saying: not coming back to Vesuvio? Fuggedaboutit!!