Vinny’s is an Italian restaurant, styling itself much like a neighborhood pizzeria in old town New York. They do serve New York-style pizza, which is very cool to find in the middle of the Smith Mountain Lake region. New York style pizza has a thick crust on the outer edges, thinning down as you get toward the actual topping part. Most New Yorkers will fold the pizza and eat it kind of like a sandwich. When I come to Vinny’s, I like to look around and try to guess which of the guests might actually be from the Big Apple based on how they’re eating their “pie.”
Vinny’s is authentic Italian, though. There really is a Vinny, who immigrated to the U.S. with his parents and little sister. That first little Vinny (Vincenzo Vitale) grew up to open up his first Italian restaurant in the U.S. in 1998. He used many of his family’s old-style recipes and added his own personality to the menu, too.
Vinny’s now has 13 locations all over Virginia and some in North Carolina, but this is the only location I’ve ever visited, and I have to say, it really does have all the makings of a genuine Italian restaurant, from the decor to the staff to the food. You won’t see any processed food trucks pulling up to this place. They make all their dough fresh daily, in-house, as well as all of their sauces. They use top quality ingredients, which I can attest to as a “regular.”
Location & Environment
Find Vinny’s at 16547 Moneta Road. They’re open from Monday through Thursday from 11 AM to 9 PM, Friday and Saturday from 11 AM to 10 PM and on Sunday from 11:30 AM to 9 PM. Vinny’s is located on the northwest end of the Hales Ford Bridge, off of Highway 122, AKA Moneta Road, making it easy to get to from either side of Smith Mountain Lake.
There’s a nice big parking lot right out front, with lots of spots close to the front door, convenient for older folks. The exterior of the place isn’t that exciting (although it does have an Italian motif), but once you enter the restaurant, you’ll feel transported to Italy.
The interior is painted in that semolina yellow color that I associate with Tuscany (like in that movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun”). The tables are covered with checkered vinyl tablecloths and the floors are Italian tile. The walls are covered with decor that looks like it came straight out of an Italian bistro. One interesting touch is the faux clothesline strung across the high ceiling, complete with “laundry.” Painted murals and faux stone wall accents give the sensation that you are dining in a street somewhere in Italy.
They do have a small outdoor patio for al fresco dining, with a wooden trellis and tables and chairs protected with umbrellas. There’s even a little urn-style water fountain on the patio.
The environment is casual, but it’s also a nice place to bring your date, too. At night it feels very romantic, and when you add the Italian music that they softly play, there’s a lot of “amour” in the air!
What’s Good on the Menu
At Vinny’s, you can eat inside the restaurant, or get curbside pickup or even delivery within the Smith Mountain Lake area. Call and tell them where your Smith Mountain Lake vacation rental is located to confirm that they can deliver.
There’s something for everyone on the menu. The appetizers include everything you’d expect from an Italian restaurant, and then some. Whenever I see calamari on a menu, that’s what I order. I feel like you can judge the quality of a restaurant by how good their calamari is, because it has to be cooked for just the right length of time to be tender. Vinny’s nailed it. The calamari appetizer is a generous portion, not heavily breaded and cooked just perfectly. If you want to go pure Italian, I recommend the Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella appetizer. It’s light and flavorful, and you can add some of it to your pizza if you don’t finish it all.
Now, you’re definitely going to want to try a pizza while you’re here, or at least an Italian pasta dish. For pizza, you probably have your favorite toppings, but I suggest you get creative at Vinny’s. Their pizza is cooked in a brick oven, with freshly-made dough and sauce. I actually had the Spinach pizza last time, which is considered Tuscan-style. Until I actually get to Tuscany, this served me well! My friend got the Greek pizza, and even though it was technically Greek-style, it tasted very Italian, with the black olives, salami and garlic olive oil. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the handmade Cannoli.
- There are 13 Vinny's locations across Virginia!