Italian-style Sunday dinners are an option every day of the week at Vespa Italian Kitchen & Bar in Farmingdale. And, as anyone who has ever experienced a true Italian dinner knows, the recipe for a good meal includes generations of family members. Vespa Italian Kitchen’s menu delivers, offering countless Sicilian dishes that have been in the Lo Manto family for decades.
“People don’t come here and get chicken parmigiana or chicken francese; it’s not that type of place,” said owner Michael Lo Manto, who opened the spot with father Ben Lo Manto and mother Cynthia Lo Manto in June. “We serve food that comes from our town in Italy like osso bucco, chickpeas and rice balls.”
The Lo Manto family has been in the restaurant business for more than a decade and has two other eateries operating under a single well-known brand: Spuntino. After years of managing the pizzeria-spirited establishments, the family decided to change things up and create a Brooklyn-style eatery with a casual yet upscale vibe.
“It’s a little loud[er] and [more] hip. You can come dressed up, hang out at the marble bar and expect to get great food.”
People have been raving about Vespa Italian Kitchen & Bar’s drinks, too. The 16-seat bar houses The Sporco, a 72-hour infused Bivi vodka (that is used for cooking as well as cocktails) made with Sicilian Castelvetrano green olives.
It fares wonderfully with the meatballs & burrata, a three meat blend of veal, pork and beef served with fresh mozzarella cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano and basil that is drizzled in a creamy Pomodoro sauce.
As for the entrées, the heaping plate of pasta con le sarde has been one of their most coveted so far. A rich blend of sardines, roasted garlic, fennel fronds, cauliflower, pine nuts, raisins and Pecorino Romano cheese dressed in a plum tomato sauce is definitely a forchettata to be reckoned with.
The secret is in the dough, freshly hand-made in the kitchen and served al dente, the pasta is extra indulgent.
The most important ingredient at Vespa Italian Kitchen & Bar is no secret: it all comes back to family.
“At the end of the day we want people to really feel like they are coming to their own dinner table, with their own family and fostering those relationships.”