It’s winter, we’re still fighting viruses and we all need a little comfort food. Italian always hits home with its rich tomato sauce and melted cheese. Who can resist?
Based on the parking lot of Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian, people aren’t resisting. Apparently, I’m not the only one looking for some pasta right now.
I figured this might be the case when submitting an order. Don’t get me wrong, the process is super easy. The menu is clearly laid out and most menu items even have a thumbnail showing you the item you’re ordering.
But, get to the end of the form, after paying, adding tip and submitting, and you’ll see a box pop up letting you know that each order is hand made and you’ll be assigned a wait time.
A couple of minutes went by and the system exclaimed, “Wow, we must be busy.” Another minute later and a 3-minute countdown timer appeared. At this point, you might begin to feel like you are on an episode of Shark Tank. Will they choose me? Will I be the lucky one?
The timer was almost to the last second before I got the golden ticket: my order was accepted and would be ready in 40 minutes. At least there was very little waiting when I arrived for my takeout.
Vinnie’s has limited seating and the massive tent encompassing much of their parking area makes up a good portion of it. Yes, that does mean parking gets tight, but it also helps guide traffic at pickup.
At the entrance of the tent, there are two rope-divided lines; one for dine-in and the other for takeout. Walk down the line, let them know your name, and before you can say “ravioli with meat sauce,” your bag is in hand and you’re back in your car. While pickup isn’t completely contactless, it is quick, orderly and space is plentiful in the waiting line.
But, the real question is what did I grab for $25? Well, Vinnie’s is one of those places where you could nearly blow your budget on one entrée. If you plan it carefully enough, however, you can walk away with a few items.
In my case, I started with the baked ziti Napolitano. It’s what I was craving — ricotta, cream, parm, sauce and plenty of toasty melted cheese on top. This rang in at $14 and, though it was packed tightly in a small container, once I broke it open it turned out to be a generous portion.
It was easily shareable, especially once we added an order of Italian wedding soup for $6. The soup was full of mini meatballs, orzo, spinach, parm and chicken broth. With only $5 left, a salad or dessert was out. However, the sides are only $5 and garlic broccoli added a little needed green to our plate. Call it one big meal if you are famished, or a nice-sized meal for two.
The full menu is available for takeout including dessert and kids’ dishes, which are a pretty solid value at $7. Wine by the bottle can also be added to your order along with house-made ginger beer, house-made lemonade and fountain drinks.
Everything is packed and bagged in containers with full snap-on lids that are microwave safe should you need a little warm-up when you get home.
So, go ahead, reach for the ziti and be reminded of the wisdom “leave the gun, take the cannoli.” Because I guarantee a cannoli will make you feel much, much better right now.
IF YOU GO
Where: Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian
Phone: 828-253-1077 To order online: vinniesitalian.com
Beverage notes: Wine, soda, house-made non-alcoholic beverages.
Contactless pickup available? No.
Matthew DeRobertis is a chef, writer and father to a kid who loves food more than her dog. Contact him at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Dining review: Takeout under $25 at Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian