There's Something About Gnocchi

In which I pursue the dumpling of my dreams

Here's the verdict, and no criticism of Manero's nonna is intended — I'm sure she was an excellent lady. I found the crust just a tad heavy and not blackened nearly enough for an oven that's supposedly pushing 1,000 Fahrenheit. That crust had little heft and few bubbles, and I wouldn't even call it particularly crisp. Its nutty flavor, though, was first-rate, and the mess on top was magnifico. Chewy chopped clams coated with parmesan, sweet smoky roasted garlic, bits of apple wood bacon, flecks of cooked thyme and fresh oregano scattered on after the pizza had been pulled from the oven — wow! There are seven specialty pizzas, and they all sound delicious (finger peppers/salami/sweet sausage/aged provolone looked particularly promising). If it isn't the best pizza in Palm Beach County, it's a helluva brave attempt.

And the pan-fried rainbow trout ($19) with escarole, white beans, and sweet sausage could not put a fin wrong. Here you have an absolutely classic Italian home-style dish — the skin fried to a delectable crispness, the flesh inside white and moist, beans and escarole muddling together in buttery sauce, a dash of lemon to sharpen the flavors and cut through all that butter. Ooooooh yesssss. The kitchen at V&A's likes to add sweet sausage to a whole bunch of things, and of this I approve. That sausage appeared also in my bowl of gnocchi ($19), along with chunks of moist chicken breast, sun-dried tomato slivers, bits of asparagus, and, of course, the gnocchi itself — plump potato dumplings, soft as the inside of your darling's thigh, that seemed to defy gravity. They were tossed in a cream-full roasted garlic and sherry sauce. Also unbeatable: a plate of veal scaloppini ($24), pounded thin but still meaty, with the thickest, richest, most divine mushroom risotto and a side of broccoli rabe to foil the heaviness of the dish with its gently bitter tang. You smear your fork around in the Marsala sauce and the generous shreds of parmigiana and you are one happy camper. The portions are huge.

You may have noticed that prices at V&A's are reasonable. You can sit at the outdoor bar and have pizza, small plates, and quartinos (little carafes, holding about a glass and a half) of all kinds of terrific Italian wines and make yourself quite a meal on the cheap. Or you can do the whole production inside, watching the chefs kick it inside the glassed-in kitchen (white tile, flames, copper pots), do the whole three courses, and not come out noticeably poorer than you were a couple of hours before. Even piling on the desserts — we sampled the gelato ($9), affogato ($5), and zeppoles ($9) — we felt like we'd gotten a bargain. I wanted to taste the olive oil gelato, but our waitress said they weren't making it anymore — the Gardens gamines apparently didn't like it. A shame. We drowned our disappointment with a basket of zeppoles: fried dough (like beignets) light as air, hot as hell, and really dreamy dipped in caramel sauce and sweet cream. The affogato, a vanilla sorbet drenched in espresso, was a delicious, dark little joke.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Vic & Angelo's Coal Oven

4520 PGA Blvd.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Palm Beach Gardens

Details

Lunch and dinner 11:30 a.m. till 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, till 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Call 561-630-9899.
4520 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens

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Then we went home and treated ourselves to another dark little joke, tossing in a DVD to watch Laurent Naouri, dressed as a gigantic fly, simulate operatic cunnilingus on Natalie Dessay in Orphée aux enfers. She nailed her high note and her climax dead on.

But I was still wondering how they made that gnocchi.

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