Had a very enjoyable evening at Lil' Vinny's in Somerville last night. Lil' Vinny's is an offshoot of Vinny's at Night run by members of the same family. Some of the servers and staff from the original Vinny's now make their home at this slightly nicer venue. The room has a small bar at one end and dim lighting. Not quite as home-y as the original Vinny's but a little more presentable. I live in the neighborhood and find myself here fairly often, especially when entertaining friends.
Lil' Vinny's just updated their menu a couple of weeks ago with a few new dishes including a couple that we tried. The menus between the two locations vary a bit. Last time I was at Vinny's at Night they still offered a couple of rabbit dishes.
Eggplant Rollatini (?) appetizer - New item on the menu. A bubbling mini-casserole of thinly sliced breaded eggplant wrapped around a herby ricotta mixture and topped with marinara and mozzarella. Gooey and nicely spreadable on the crusty Italian bread.
Grilled Ostrich - A very beefy, meaty steak with a nice flavor. Served with a slightly sweet port wine pan reduction sauce with crimini mushrooms. I ordered medium-rare (which is what our waiter recommended), but the chef cooked it just a touch beyond that. The wasn't as tender as I remember it at Vinny's at Night, but the chef had sliced the filet for presentation on the plate which helped considerably. I loved the side dishes - mashed potatoes with a few bits of crushed red pepper folded in fried into a browned cake and sauteed fresh vegetables including carrots, zucchini and red cabbage. You can also get any of the entrees served with a side of pasta, including their home-made fusilli.
Lobster Ravioli - I didn't get to taste this before my table-mate gobbled it up, but I saw a big plate of ravioli with cream sauce topped with a couple of lobster claws.
Cheese Manicotti - I was able to snag a bite of this. Browned bits of crispy cheese on top and the same herby ricotta filling as the eggplant. I tasted just a hint of heat in the marinara sauce.
Chicken Pomodoro - New item on the menu. Two large breaded chicken cutlets. Crispy outside, juicy inside. Over a mountain of linguini. Topped big chunks of fresh roma tomatoes in a cream sauce. The tomatoes were pretty good for this time of year. I found the sauce a little bland, but other people at the table like it very much.
Desserts were a mixed bag. I had banana cream pie with a chocolate crust. Nicely presented on a big plate. Huge slice, but could have had more banana flavor. Maybe the bananas weren't ripe enough? Reese's peanut butter cup cheese cake with caramel sauce. Again nicely presented, very tasty. They also offer those frozen sorbets that are served in hollowed-out fruit cups. Lemon, pineapple, coconut, peach. I'm pretty sure the banana cream pie was home-made, but I'm less sure about the cheese cake and sorbets.
Other dishes I have enjoyed in the past at Lil' Vinny's are stuffed veal chop, chicken marsala, beef bracciola, and the home-made fusilli pasta. Portions are large, so almost everyone goes home with a doggie bag.
Most entrees were in the $14-$18 range. Pasta dishes are a little cheaper while the ostrich and the filet mignon topped out at $19.95. The bread is a monster basket of very good slices off a large, dense, crusty Italian loaf. Served with spiced olive oil and butter (too cold).
I don't know enough about wine to report on the wine list, but they do have one. Most bottles in the $20 - $40 range. I know more about beer, but not much to report here. The beer list tops out with Bass and Sam Adams. All served in bottles. Mixed drinks are also available.
Lil' Vinny's is located at 525 Medford Street in Magoun Square in Somerville, within sight of Wang's Fast Food.