Vilaggio Ristorante ****

Angel Hair Pomodoro with Basil and Parmesan

358 San Lorenzo Ave
Coral Gables, Fl 33146
On the way home from My Yogurt Bliss, I realized that although I was not actually still hungry, I was in the mood to taste more delicious food. I had just enjoyed something sweet, cold, and creamy and now I was in the mood for something warm, salty, and cheesy…aka a savory pasta dish from Villagio! I was genuinely hoping that one of my friends would axe the idea of eating another meal (as I clearly have no self control when it comes to food), but nobody spoke up as we walked past my apartment door, heading in the direction of the little Italian restaurant that is underneath my building. It was some sort of a non-verbalized unanimous decision and when we finally got to the restaurant we all looked at each other like “hmmm…this is funny. How did we get here?!” Obviously, none of us have self control when it comes to food! We took our seats at an outside table and began scarfing down the incredible Villagio Bruschetta, which is worthy of 5 stars and better yet…it’s complimentary! Thats right, FREE! As you can imagine, my friends and I totally abuse the free tomato privilege. We used to all take turns politely asking the waiter, “excuse me sir, but is it possible to please get just a few more tomatoes?” We would speak really softly and acknowledge how busy he was, apologizing for our inconvenient request…you know what I’m talking about. And this would happen about 3 or 4 times before the entrees were brought out. Now, we just start off the meal by saying, “yeah, we are going to need like a bowl of those tomatoes.” They are really the highlight of this restaurant in my opinion. They are macerated in balsamic vinegar and oil, seasoned with scallions, garlic, and basil and they come served over top a thin, warm, foccacia bread. One word–delicious!
The entrees are also tasty at Villagio, but they are basic and definitely not authentic. Its kind of like fast food Italian, in an elegant atmosphere, that is quick and cheap. But there is no doubt that this place is a bargain–you can get a full pasta dinner for just $6! It’s cheaper to eat pasta at Villagio than it would be to make at home. My favorite pasta is the Linguini Selvaggio, which is linguini in a light white wine sauce with 3 types of mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, fresh mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. I also really like the pasta dish that I had with the girls tonight, which was the Agnolotti Del Magnifico. It was homemade rounded pasta (like raviolis) filled with ricotta cheese and spinach, served in a pink cream sauce (basically, the epitome of comfort food). However, when I’m looking for a protein, I usually order the Balsamic Chicken, which is boneless chicken breast served in a balsamic demi-glaze with mushrooms, asparagus, and golden yukon potatoes. Its a huge portion and it always comes out piping hot! If your in the mood for something lighter, the Zucchini Broccoli soup is very good. It is a clear broth soup with delicate noodles and vegetables that will be sure to please.
The only thing that I would not order at Villagio are the salads. The greens often tend to be bitter, and the chicken that they put on the salad is tough…inedible actually. I’ve never been happy with ordering a salad here, so I wouldn’t recommend that you do. Should you have room for dessert though, the Tiramisu is fabulous. Oddly, it is probably the best tiramisu that I have ever had. I’m not really much of a dessert person, but I always try to save room for a piece of this cake.
Overall, Villagio is a great bang for your buck. Perfect portion sizes at a ridiculously low price. It has a beautiful atmosphere with outdoor seating in the middle of Merrick Park, and the inside is also very spacious and elegant. It gets four stars for the value factor, the fast service, and of course, the tomatoes, which bumped it up a star!!

Lasagna with Bolognese Sauce

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