Nestled in a run-down strip mall off of Stop 11 & US135 in Greenwood, the FLO drive past Vito Provolone's almost every day. Yet in our 10 years in town, we'd never eaten there. A victim of judging the book by it's cover and our penchant for pickiness with Italian food. No Buca's or Johnny Carino's for us. We can make a better tomato sauce at home. But our blogging duties demanded an end to the chain madness!
We were well prepared to write a negative review. Expecting the worst, we entered into a small, low-lit, worn-but-comfortable dining room with stucco walls, sconces and faux-brick. Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra played in the background. Libby immediately felt they were going for an outdoor Italian cafe, inside... The half-brick walls and tight table arrangement played this out. Even though everyone was whispering, several conversations could be heard at all times. It led to a family-friendly intimate feel. Very pleasant.
We were immediately impressed with the Northern Italian influence in the menu. We're suckers for Piccattas, Marsalas and clam sauces. Fred and Libby immediately decided on ordering our bellwether italian dishes to give a true basis for comparison. Libby went with the Chicken Marsala, Fred with the Chicken Lamone (Vito's piccata). Italian is one of Ozzy's favorites (carb-based of course) so it was the kid's spaghetti for him.
After ordering two glasses of the house Chianti (nice! f-f-f-f), Ozzy's eye's lit up as the complimentary garlic bread arrived. Baked fresh (or sure seemed like it!) and brushed with a nice salty garlic-butter, Oz was in heaven. After Fred gave him only one piece at a time, he eventually grabbed half a loaf in a hilarious display that was too cute to stop. So much for our appetizer...
Each entree came with a soup or salad option. Fred went with a house salad with blue cheese (one of their 4 homemade dressings) while Libby enjoyed a wonderful cream of mushroom soup. Well seasoned. Not too powerful. A nice mild flavor that most people would enjoy.
The main courses arrived quickly and we were immediately impressed with the quality. Fred couldn't wait for Libby to finish cutting up Ozzy's noodles before he tried his first bite. Yum. The chicken was pounded flat (which usually spells of disastrous, dried hunks of jerky) but instead it was moist with a crisp pan fry. They were very generous with the capers, much to Fred's delight. It was a very zesty lemon-caper sauce with angel hair. Perfect.
Libby was equally happy with her Marsala. The same preparation for the chicken and pasta. After enjoying the mushroom soup, it seemed a natural progression to move to this lightly mushroom flavored Marsala sauce. It was a more sweet, yet still a mild version that was unique to Vito's.
But the real grand-slam was Ozzy's spaghetti. It's always a good sign when the boy is still eating after Mom & Dad have finished. He actually gave his own review. "This is good." and "Still not done yet." We stole a few tastes and the sauce was a sweet, heavy basil and oregano marinara that was screaming to go on pizza. We both made a mental note for next time.
Price-$$$, A bit on the pricey side, but we didn't exactly go with the cheap eats either...
Atmosphere-**1/2, We think we know where they were going, but it wouldn't hurt to put a little more effort into it. Especially if you're actually in a rundown strip mall and only open for dinner.
Service-***, Fast, friendly, and quick to offer more bread & drinks.
Fred -B+, I was SO looking forward to a negative review! Oh well. Darned good wine sauce!
Libby - B, Although I was pleasantly surprised with both my soup and entree, I prefer bolder flavors.
Ozzy - A, See above!