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Vico Italiano for eating with family and friends


A large staff in a small restaurant signals a restaurant wanting to please its guests. On busy nights, Vico Ristorante Italiano’s owner-chef, Vincenzo Loffredo, has two cooks with him in the kitchen while four waiters, a busgirl, and his wife, Maria Loffredo, handle the front of the house. The chef was born in Foggia, Italy, and grew up on his parents’ and grandparents’ farms. Before opening Vico last summer, he had worked for years at several area restaurants, and credits Boston chef Franco Caritano for teaching him the value of cooking with the fresh ingredients he grew as a kid. In the warm months, he grows his own.


Vico Ristorante is in the rear of an office building just off Norwood’s town common on a “vico,’’ the Italian word for side street. If the exterior doesn’t shout restaurant, the interior does. The Loffredos’ joy at owning their own place has put a shine on the space. There is — surprise! — no bar here, no television, and the message is clear: Vico is for eating dinner with family and friends. The 50-seat space has booths along the walls, pretty pendant fixtures, ready-for-business white tablecloths, and wooden floors. The chef appears in the dining room occasionally, greeting people; Maria talks with guests like friends; and on some nights, the couple’s 14-year-old daughter buses tables. The soundtrack includes Sinatra and Italian favorites.


Vico’s menu is small while offering a variety of classic and original Italian dishes. There are also changing daily specials, and if the chef has the ingredients he will make whatever a guest requests.

On a first visit, fragrant green olives arrive with house-made garlic focaccia — a thin version one night, thicker the next. The bread goes nicely with a bowl of comforting, all-vegetable minestrone ($6).

An order of spaghetti aglio olio ($13) is delivered on two plates – ample enough to be two orders. Vico does this beloved Italian country pasta beautifully, with just the right amount of garlic-infused olive oil, bits of cooked garlic, and parsley.

The large shrimp in the gamberi in padella appetizer ($13) are cooked absolutely perfectly — springy and fleshy — and served with a red sauce. I would prefer garlic and wine, but never mind: There are seven of them, enough for a light meal.

When our professional young waiter asks the chef whether we can substitute spaghetti for the gnocchi offered with tomato-basil sauce ($15), the answer saves us $11: “He said to just order a side of pasta.” The $4 side is large, and the marinara flavorful. (I would ask for less sauce next time.) Rigatoni Bolognese ($15) is sweet and meaty with pork, beef, and veal, and topped with fresh basil and shaved Parmesan.

The fresh vegetables (broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts) the chef does so well and the roast potatoes that side all of the entrees steal the show from the pollo rustica ($16), which is fine but doesn’t have much of a point of view, flavor-wise. More delicious are two other entrees: The salmone balsamico ($19) has lovely light grill marks on top, while the fish is as tender as if it has been poached. And the bistecca alla griglia ($24) is a beautifully cooked and seasoned sirloin steak.

Good house-made tiramisu ($6) comes in individual cups, crusted with hardened-in-place dark chocolate on top. When I ask our waiter whether the chef also makes the lava cake ($6), he returns from the kitchen with a charming, amusing, and alluring answer: “No, but it comes from a trusted source.”

Vico Ristorante Italiano, 89 Central St., Norwood; 781-352-3336,