October 15, 1999
"Much of the fare prepared at La Vecchia Napoli, a charming brick-faced restaurant tucked into the corner of River Road and Hilliard Avenue, awakened our palates and delighted our senses...The roasted artichokes could have been from any of several regional cuisines of Italy, and all should take pride in claiming La Vecchia’s version as theirs.
Broccoli Rabe, which is often bitter, was cooked with careful precision and served crisp and tender, with only a pleasant hint at the bitter flavor that makes it appealing. The lightly browned slices of garlic we found nestled between the leaves were like golden gems, offering up a creamy sweet counterpart.
In every dish we tried, including those we were less keen on, the one thing that remained clear was this is a restaurant that uses only the finest, freshest ingredients available...You will swear you are sitting in a restaurant tucked into a side street in Naples.”
December 22, 1995
“Maybe it was fate that brought Tina and Mimmo Barracano, the couple that owns La Vecchia Napoli, from the bay of Naples and the shadow of Vesuvius to the banks of the Hudson and beacon of the Empire State Building. But what they bring diners is sumptuous authentic Southern Italian cuisine accented with local ingredients and served with style.
From the outside, La Vecchia Napoli looks as if it belongs on Beacon Hill in Boston with its red brick sidewalk, canvas awnings, and tall floor-to-ceiling windows bordered with lace curtains. Inside, Mimmo mans the front lines and ensures that doors are opened for guests, coats are checked, guests are seated, and meals are paced.
Mimmo and Tina are like a one-two punch. First comes the service, then the cuisine. And the service is crisp, professional, and attentive. However, it’s not cutting edge: there’s always the embracing cozy confines of a family restaurant. Pictures of Naples and Italy dot the walls the same way spaghetti would if it were tossed around the room--whatever sticks, stays. It’s charming.
So if you don’t have the time to jet off to Naples, drive down to Edgewater where Tina and Mimmo transport guests in the New World back to the Old.”
June 23, 2008, written by user "AlessandroNewYork"
"If you're looking for exquisite authentic Italian cooking, La Vecchia Napoli is a hidden treasure.
I'm from Rome (Prati). Italians know the heart and soul, and the very best of Italian cuisine, is homemade cooking. In that respect, Vecchia has no equal in NY or NJ. Vecchia features exquisite food, great wine selection, relaxed and casual, cosy ambiance, very attentive service and the outdoor seating is a nice touch - semi-private booths surrounded by flowers.
Mostly based on the regional cooking of Naples, which is famous across Italy for their seafood, this family-run restaurant excels in creating mouth-watering dishes using the freshest ingredients in season, incredibly fresh seafood and bringing out flavours in a clean uncomplicated way. (Try the oven-roasted branzino - a bass-like fish- at at Vecchia. There's literally nothing like it in Italian seafood restaurants in Manhattan).
In true Italian form, each dish is made upon order and served immediately so every ingredient can be tasted at its peak - nothing is left to cool down and lose flavour. (So important is this, that Leonardo da Vinci's last written words, and the reason for his stopping writing are - "la zuppa si raffredda" - or the soup is getting cold). Italians expect this. Those who are unaware that receiving a dish seconds after ordering it means the food is often pre-prepared and re-heated, may be a little surprised that real Italian cooking takes time to be cooked!
Don't worry, do as Italians do - order the appetizers - like the incredible peperone imbottito (oven-roasted bellpepper stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto, which a friend described as a mouth orgasm) while the main dish is being prepared.
The seafood pasta dishes in particular are out of this world. The Chef, Tina, has a fantastic hand and knows how to pair flavours in ways that are simply delicious. Usually the specials are the best, as they're what's most in season. If the restaurant isn't too busy Tina often comes out to meet and greet the patrons and is very sincere in seeking people's reactions to her dishes.
Be sure to talk to husband Mimmo or the head waiter Giovanni. Both provide excellent guidance and advice on the dishes and specials, and Giovanni in particular is an excellent sommelier and very warm and friendly - he's introduced me to wonderful wines, both sophisticated and unpretentious, and they carry many you can't find in other Italian restaurants. Tina and Mimmo's son, Mario, attended pasty school in Italy and it shows - be sure to try the Tiramisu and be transported to Italy.
To use the standard line that many Italians abroad use to describe a great place: "this restaurant would be excellent even if it was in Italy."
February 7, 2012, written by user Cynthia S.
"It's so old school in so many areas, including the service and the food...they pan roast an artichoke heart with such artful precision that I can easily forgive any gruff or "artiste" manner from the house. They are old world perfect. In fact you have to understand and love the food of the region when you come here, it's as authentic as it gets, transcendent in it's simplicity, and just so precisely prepared."