Our first stop after unpacking in our rental was for dinner at Il Vecchio. Il vecchio is Italian for “the old”. This place screams old, but not in a bad way. It screams old world…Rome to be exact. The decor, the people and the food all have a familiar and comforting feel to them…like an old tradition.
110 Central Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
For a starter, I ordered the pane e olio (bread and oil). It arrived at the table on a wooden cutting board branded with the restaurant’s name. The ciabatta was fresh and perfectly complemented the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and the sweet roasted peppers. The key here was the vinegar and oil; both were the best quality. The vinegar was aged and thick. The oil green with a rotund flavor.
For my entree I ordered the rigatoni con ragu toscano (tuscan rigatoni with ragu). The rigatoni was served al dente with just the right amount of firmness. It was a combination of beef and pork; slow-cooked and wonderfully savory with a bit of cream. There are really no words to describe how good this ragu was. I wanted to gobble it up as fast as I could but fought the desire so I could enjoy every bite s-l-o-w-l-y. E-VER-Y bite.
As we were finishing our dinners when the owner, Carl Alasko, stopped by our table to check on us. He is a witty and jovial gentleman. I told him that my rigatoni was the best I had since visiting Italy. We shared with each other our favorite meals and restaurants in Italy. Carl lived in Italy for eleven years. In this time he learned about the culture and its food. When he returned to the U.S. and Pacific Grove he opened the restaurant. He and his family have gone to great lengths to make the food as traditional and true to the Italian culture as possible.
I am so glad we found this gem our first night! We liked it so much we headed back again for Pizza Night! It did not disappoint. The pie is served on a sourdough crust and then cooked in a skillet with olive oil for a undeniably good taste and texture. I opted for the piccante; a blend of spice Calabrese salami, tomato sauce, mozzarella and olives.
For dessert I picked one of Il Vecchio’s Gelato Creations…the Aloha to be exact. It was heavenly. It is layered vanilla gelato with coconut, crushed macaroons and macadamia nuts. Come one now! Crazy good.
Mixed olive appetizer
Mussels in tomato sauce
Cannelloni with ricotta and spinach