Viajo’s: Italian With No Shortcuts
By Luann and Margaret
If you can’t go to your Italian mother-in-law’s
house for dinner, consider heading over to Viajo’s on
Jericho Turnpike where the Italian values of family and food
come together to make for a charming dining experience.
Owned by Vito DeFeo, Viajo’s is more than just a place
that serves pizza and pasta. The restaurant offers patrons
a comfortable, casual environment in which they can enjoy
top-quality, carefully prepared food at a modest price.
The restaurant takes its name from the Italian word viaggio,
meaning “make a trip,” said DeFeo. DeFeo imports
90 percent of his ingredients directly from Italy and only
uses local food vendors. DeFeo still cooks his sauce for hours
on end, saying “every shortcut you take, you lose something.
The way mom used to cook on Sunday is the way I cook here.”
And just as you never leave mom’s hungry, you will not
leave Viajo’s with room for more. “My mom never
short-changed me, so all the portions are big,” said
Appetizers feature classics like fried calamari ($9). Baked
clams ($9) are served whole on the half-shell and are particularly
notable for their freshness, as is the Cold Seafood Salad
($11/$16) whose shrimp, scungilli, and calamari were of considerable
size. Dressed with a spicy herb dressing made with crushed
red pepper, it was a great preview of what was to come.
When you order a salad at Viajo’s, expect more than
just lettuce and a few vegetables. The house salad ($5.50/$9)
packs in carrots, radishes, hot cherry peppers, artichoke
hearts, red cabbage, olives, red onions, roasted red peppers,
and plum tomatoes. Homemade soups are also popular.
The menu is marked by traditional favorites like chicken parmigiana
($13) and lasagna ($11). Also featured is gnocchi, which DeFeo
thumbs himself orechietti-style using whole-wheat dough. The
more adventurous might try the Rigatoni Alla Viajo’s
($10), a delightful specialty pasta dish set in a pomodoro
wine sauce with pignoli nuts, raisins, spinach, and onions.
The nutty taste of the pignolis and the burst of sweetness
provided by the soft, moist raisins was balanced perfectly.
A popular meat dish is the Chicken Alla Viajo’s ($17),
three large chicken cutlets topped with artichoke hearts,
sundried tomatoes and mozerella cheese in a white wine pomodoro
sauce. The artichoke hearts fell apart in our mouths, and
the sundried tomatoes offered a sweet, moist complement to
the pomodoro sauce.
If you manage to save room for dessert Viajo’s stuffs
the cannolis right there to keep the shell crisp and fresh.
Mondays and Tuesdays feature pasta specials, and don’t
forget about the pizza. Moma’s pizza, a thin crust Sicilian
marinara, is made with fresh San Marzano tomatoes, garlic,
oil, and a touch of oregano.
Whether you are a party of two or 12, Viajo’s can provide
you with a glowing, comfortable atmosphere in which you can
enjoy your dinner and feel like a part of the Viajo’s
family. So “make a trip” to Viajo’s.
1277 East Jericho Turnpike, Huntington
Cuisine: Italian like your mother used to
Atmosphere: Comfortable, casual, family-friendly
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.,
Fri-Sat: 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun:12 p.m.-9 p.m.