Best Bites, Cavatelli at Il Vicolo

As good a plate of pasta as I can recall

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By David Hammond

In warmer months, Il Vicolo – with outdoor seating in one of the village's better appointed "alleys" – has special appeal.

We ordered the "Cavatelli con Salsiccia" -- cavatelli with sausage – and it was about as good a plate of pasta as I can recall. The noodles – long cavatelli rather than the shorter, bun-like variety – were toothy, substantial, and full of flavor. The sausage, crumbled into the mix, though not housemade, was very good, lightly piquant and pleasantly fatty. The peas add visual interest and prove a sweet complement to the slightly spicy sausage and acidic sauce. This is a fine plate of pasta, and although I previously feared I might never enjoy tomato-based cream sauce again (it seems like the default sauce at most local Italian places), the quality of the pasta elevated this sometimes pedestrian menu item to greatness. It's sometimes hard for us to eat at the same place more than once, but if I ever go back to Il Vicolo, I am going to have this dish again.

Arugula is one of my favorite pizza toppings. In Rome, I ate pizza of arugula and bresaola (dried beef) every chance I got; the blend of the peppery leaf and meat is a beautiful thing. At Il Vicolo, I ordered the pizza with arugula and prosciutto, and although the flavors meshed well together, the presentation was odd. The pizza was cooked and cut, and then the prosciutto was laid on in large strips, making it impossible to pull out a slice without the big hunks of ham slipping off to the side. This seems like an easy problem to fix (just cut the prosciutto at the same time as you're cutting the rest of the pizza), but I talked to owner Vito Tufano, and he said he lays on the whole slices of prosciutto so "you know you're not getting scraps." I dunno, I'm not sure customers would really assume that, and as it is, this is difficult pizza to eat…but worth the effort.

One problem with outdoor dining – in the U.S. as well as Europe and elsewhere – is that when tables and chairs are arranged along the street, you sometimes get a big dose of car exhaust with your dinner. Il Vicolo's outdoor dining area avoids that problem by being located in an somewhat private, though still outdoor, space right off Oak Park Avenue. When we were there, lots of families brought their kids, and having an outdoor setting like this is perfect when trying to manage young ones in a restaurant.

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debbie panarese from arlington heights  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 12:23 PM

I love Il Vivolo more eac time I go back. The food is amazing, the staff is like family and the outdoor dining is wonderful.. Vito has truly brought italy to Oak Park with all the freshest of ingredients made from with each diah. I dare anyone to go and not fall in love with the place and the food. From the minute i walk in until i leave i feel as though i am dining in southern italy or Rome. Thank you Vito for sure a wonderful venue, and Oak Park is very lucky to hve you.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 1:51 PM

David, just discovered this place and I'm a fan. And if it is under 90 the outdoor dining in very nice.

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