Vinny's Ristorante encapsulates the notion of a hidden gem—upon arrival at the address, customers often first think they're lost, as it appears they're mistakenly at a convenience store. The Italian eatery is tucked in the back of this store, so once customers spot red-checkered tablecloths, along with "the vaguely Sopranos-esque clientele sucking down pasta fazool," it's clear they've made it.
Boston magazine reviewers—who observed the Tony Soprano lookalikes when they deemed Vinny's worthy of the Best of Boston list for affordable Italian in 2006—highlight the restaurant's antipasto bar and "massive" portions of handmade pasta as the major draws. And although the word's been out for some time about this secluded Sicilian hotspot, Vinny's marinara and handmade mafalda noodles, impressive Zagat rating, and ceiling fans modeled after da Vinci's helicopter blueprints continue to captivate loyal regulars.
Warm aromatics wafting from the kitchen will set your senses astir as you focus your peepers on Lil Vinny's menu of feast-worthy fare. As you discuss dinner decisions among tablemates, hush the interjecting jibber jabber of an impatient appetite with a plate of fried calamari ($8.95) or eggplant rollatini ($9.95) to share, coupled with an glass of Italian red wine or a specialty martini from the full bar. Customers craving childlike comfort delight in platters of linguini with meatballs or sausage ($12.95), while actual children can exercise maturity by thoughtfully selecting a dish from the children's menu based on what will pair best with their fountain soda ($1.50). Classic chicken ($15.95) and veal ($18.95) cacciatore toss protein with colorful peppers, earthy mushrooms, purple onions, and crimson marinara, while the vibrant orange notes of scallop and shrimp Grand Marnier ($19.95) come forward to complete a rainbow of rations. Black Angus filet mignon is a house specialty, served with a sweet port-wine reduction and silverware ($28.95).
Brunello Bistro’s menu tantalizes the culinary lobes of the brain with a fusion of Italian fare and Mediterranean tangs, served with the aesthetic flair of a Matisse breakdance. Seafoodies will immediately set a course for Brunello's signature mussels appetizer ($13), served either "bianco" in a garlic and wine sauce or "spicy pomodoro" in a hot fra diavolo sauce. But all roads lead to Brunello’s top dish, lamb osso bucco ($28) in a port-wine sauce with mascarpone-cheese polenta. Diners who are worried about upsetting humanity’s uneasy truce with sheep can instead venture out into one of Brunello's idiosyncratic plates, such as roasted duck ($27) covered in an orange glaze and married with roasted spaghetti squash. Brunello also stocks its cellar with a select selection of wines and walled-up aristocrats, so lubricate one’s dinner conversation with an Arancio pinot noir ($25) straight from Sicily. Lunchtimers, meanwhile, can drop by the restaurant for a monterey-jack cheeseburger ($11.95) or a plate of fresh, handmade ravioli ($18), and early incliners can wake up groggy stomachs with a breakfast of apple/banana pancakes ($8.95) before heading off to another rewarding day of minding the conveyor belt conveyor belt at the conveyor-belt factory.