Lil Vinny's Ristorante (CLOSED)
525 Medford Street, Somerville, MA 02145
The close-knit, working-class Somerville of old may be disappearing in spots, but Magoun Square, which is home to the wonderful Lil Vinny's Ristorante, has thus far resisted change. Perhaps this is why the square itself is a bit of a hidden gem; this densely-packed neighborhood just minutes from Boston is an interesting area with a number of good restaurants and bars, but it continues to be a bit under the radar. In a way, this is not a bad thing; indeed, dining spots such as Lil Vinny's remain little treasures that are frequented mainly by locals, giving them a unique feel.
The white storefront of Lil Vinny's may be rather plain, but once inside, it has the intimate atmosphere of a classic old-time Italian restaurant. Lil Vinny's is owned by the same family that runs the fabulously quirky Vinny's at Night in East Somerville (a great dining spot located in the back of a convenience store!), and has the same high quality food. You really can't go wrong with any dish here; the chicken pomodoro, spinach ravioli, and veal parmigiana are all top notch, with some entrees being truly memorable, including the creamy tomato-based minestrone soup which is chock full of zucchini, peppers, onions, carrots, celery, and more; the beef bracciola, which has incredibly tender strips of round steak marinated in tomato sauce and rolled up with prosciutto and provolone cheese in the middle; and the seemingly humble ziti and meatballs, which is special mainly for the outstanding red sauce that this restaurant makes. And if you want a bit more atmosphere with your food, eat at the bar; you'll get to know the friendly staff at Lil Vinny's in no time.
It seems like there are fewer and fewer old fashioned red sauce joints like Lil Vinny's around these days in the Boston area (other than the North End, of course), but there are still enough of them around to satisfy those who like Southern Italian food at reasonable prices in a casual setting. Here's hoping that Lil Vinny's continues to call Magoun Square its home for years to come, as it is certainly a restaurant that fills a need in Somerville and the surrounding area.
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