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26 April, 2007

Vespa Ristorante (Downtown Chapel Hill)

Posted in : Dining in Chapel Hill - NC, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez

Vespa Ristorante
Franklin Street
306-D West Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC
http://chapel.hill.vespasta.com/
Entrees $11–18

This Italian restaurant is distinguished by the Vespa motorbike sitting on permanent display outside the patio. It’s got a nice brick walkway into the small, appealing dining room. The walls are the color of salmon, which is attractive as long as the restaurant is dimly lit. Italian versions of American classic film posters adorn them but not too many to make it seem cluttered. The corner bar is an elegant dark wood that’s often occupied by on and off duty employees on a slow night.

Bread service included yummy breadsticks and an intriguing sesame roll with a strong baked in flavor of red peppers. Mr. Gourmez liked them but I thought the recipe could use some refinement. For the main course, I had Spazzato Paesana, chicken cooked with cognac, rosemary, and artichoke hearts. There were mushrooms as well, but I refuse to report on those. The cognac sauce was mellow yet dense and a great mate for the delicate chicken. The artichoke hearts needed some additional cooking as they were tough and not succulent as such should be. My husband’s gnocchi special with tomato and basil sauce was bland but delightfully delicate in texture.

We’ve been to Vespa a few times now and it’s always a pleasant end to a day.

3 stars

3 stars

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