Off night at a local Italian favorite

It’s not a big surprise that one of the best things about growing up in an Italian household is the food. So when dining at an Italian restaurant specializing in dishes common to my Neapolitan roots, I tend to be a tough customer.

A popular Italian favorite, especially for pizza, is Vic and Angelo’s in Palm Beach Gardens. Not only is its pizza delicious, the pie is reminiscent of the pizza made in Naples, Italy, where pizza was first created more than 200 years ago (just check with the Associazone Pizzaliola Napolientani). Baked at a high temperature in a coal-fired oven, the oval, oversized pizza is served on a large, square, tin tray. The slightly charred, thin and crispy crust is topped off with just the right amount of tomato sauce and cheese. In addition to common toppings such as pepperoni and mushrooms, Vic and Angelo’s offers unique picks such as rapani, eggplant, caramelized onions and artichokes.

I recently visited Vic and Angelo’s with a group of friends during happy hour (half-priced drinks and appetizers from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.), and we shared a selection of appetizers and pizza. We decided on oven-roasted chicken wings, meatballs, eggplant parmigiana, fried zucchini and a pizza “originale” style (tomato sauce, mozzarella di buffala, reggiano, oil de verde).

For some reason, something just wasn’t right on this particular visit. The service at the inside bar was lousy, and a number of the dishes weren’t up to par. The pizza was extremely salty and had a strong oregano taste. So did the meatball.

We did enjoy the chicken wings, which were perfectly charred and served with grilled onions. The fried zucchini and eggplant were also delicious.

For dessert, we shared an order of zeppolas. What’s not to love about piping-hot, bit-sized fried-dough balls covered in powdered sugar and served in a paper bag? These alone are worth a visit.

The menu is extensive but pricey – the meatball appetizer (one meatball about the size of a baseball) is $17 (mamma mia, the old-timers would have a coronary). The restaurant features many of the classics, such as lasagna, linguini with clam sauce (white or red), grilled sausage and peppers, and “Nonna’s Sunday Gravy Macaroni” (a.k.a. Grandma’s tomato sauce with pasta). Other choices include sea bass, yellow tail snapper and aged steaks and chops.

There are some distinguishing features about Vic and Angelo’s that should not go unmentioned. Classic movie favorites such as “Raging Bull” and “The Godfather” are usually playing on televisions located throughout the bar and restaurant. The restaurant imports New York City water for cooking and bottles it for its patrons for free. And its Palm Beach Gardens location has a bocce ball court and giant chess game in the courtyard, a fun touch, especially for kids.

One “off night” will not prevent me from returning to Vic and Angelo’s, which has two locations in Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens that are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. For more information, please visit www.vicandangelos.com.

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