da Vinci’s Restaurant (Williamstown)

da Vinci’s is a classic Italian restaurant that specializes in pizza and pasta – two foods that are always popular. (http://villadavinci.com/)  It is located at the foot of the bridge of the Ohio River across from Marietta College at the intersection of WV Rtes. 14 and 31. It’s housed in a large building that is meant to look like an Italian villa; it’s a look that is either classic or cliche’ depending on your frame of mind. Considering my lack of interior decorating skills, I will call it classic. Fenton glass is used throughout for decoration.

I decided to go for the traditional spaghetti and meatballs in a lunch-sized portion. In doing so, I passed over the Spaghetti Mona Lisa ™(baked spaghetti with meat sauce, mushrooms, mozzrella, green peppers and pepperoni) which is a house speciality. I also passed over another house speciality that sounds intriguing. Here is their description of the German Pizza: “Tender Corned Beef, Sauerkraut and Cheese with a unique German Horseradish Sauce.”

Lunch started with a garden salad:

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Two pickles that I think were homemade were an unusual touch. The house italian was flavorful — zesty is how I think the marketing executives would call it — and not too oily. A good start. Next came the pasta:

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The meat sauce had a good tomato flavor and was not skimpy on the meat. It was a little thin — it may thicken a bit for the dinner crowd — but was not so watery that it wouldn’t stick to the pasta. It was pretty solid stuff. Having grown up in an Italian family, I have learned that the best meatballs use a mix of beef, veal and pork. da Vinci’s meatball tasted like they used that formula, though a little heavier on the pork. The result was unusual but still tasty.

The one downside is that the lunch portion is small; I think I heard a server call it the child’s portion. I’d recommend spending the extra $1.50 for the full portion unless you are a very light eater. On the other hand, the smaller portion left room for an unplanned dessert, which turned out to be a good thing.

da Vinci’s desserts are more American than Italian, other than the limocello cake. I chose the peanut butter pie:

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The pie came in four layers. 1) the whipped topping dusted in chocolate, 2) a rich chocolate creme filling, 3) a dense and not too sweet peanut butter layer, and 4) a very flakey pie crust. This would be the other, very valid, reason to go for the lunch portion.

Serivce was friendly, though be careful not to agree to cover everything with mozzerella. The prices were a bit high for lunch, with tip my meal was around $20, but that did include pie. Dinner would likely have only been a few dollars more and $20 for a good dinner is fine.

Is it unique?

If you aren’t from West Virginia, you might think that an Italian restaurant in the Mountain State would be rare. You’d be wrong. West Virginia has a sizeable population of Italian-Americans and some outstanding places to enjoy Italian food. I wouldn’t put da Vinci’s in the top tier of Italian restaurants (Julio’s, Rocco’s and Muriale’s) that are worth a drive from anywhere in or around the state. (Note: I don’t consider Cafe Cimino an Italian restaurant even though it might be the best place to eat in the entire state.) I would put da Vinci’s on the next tier down. It’s one of the best places in Wood County and probably is one of the top 100 places in the state.

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