A place to feel welcome

TAKEOUT

November 19, 2003|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Many restaurants treat carryout patrons like second-class citizens, forcing us to wait in cramped vestibules or to stand awkwardly near a cash register. Not so at Vinny's Cafe.

A somewhat upscale Italian restaurant on Holabird Avenue in Dundalk, Vinny's features a separate room for carryout, a space that is welcoming and well-attended. The walls are painted with a green and gold pattern, and the sound system cranked out old pop standards.

You can even buy a beer or a glass of chianti while you're waiting. I knew I was going to like the place when the server offered a choice of limes or lemons for our Coronas.

Vinny's carryout menu includes some of the entrees from the restaurant, including several pasta and meat dishes. But it also offers many cheaper items, including subs, pizza and salads. Our order was ready in no time, and our ever-diligent server prepared a box with an aluminum foil liner to keep anything from dripping on the ride home.

Grilled roasted red peppers were a bit expensive at $9.95, but we enjoyed the huge serving of peppers and slices of buffalo-milk mozzarella. Another side order - sauteed spinach ($5.95) - was nicely flavored with olive oil, lemon and garlic. Vinny's salad ($10.80) featured good-quality greens, more mozzarella, a balsamic dressing and delicious strips of chicken. Spaghetti alla salsicce ($10.95) brought together pasta, a hearty tomato sauce and slices of bland sausage - nothing special, but nothing to send back to the kitchen, either.

Finally, an eggplant parmigiana sub ($6) included a thick pile of fried eggplant on a fresh roll. We were pleased that we could actually taste the eggplant under all the sauce and cheese.

Vinny's offers a dozen desserts made by the Italian company Bindi. The treats are flown over from the mother country. We decided on a cappuccino cake ($3.95) with layers of sponge chocolate cake alternating with cappuccino-flavored filling.

Vinny's Cafe

Food: ***

Service: ****

Waiting area: *** 1/2

Parking: ***

Where: 6212 Holabird Ave., Dundalk

Phone: 410-633-7709

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Italian salads, pizza, pasta and meat dishes, $3.95 to $19.95; credit cards accepted

Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *

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