I had a wonderful first visit to Villaggio Ristorante, an Italian restaurant in the North End of Manchester on Hooksett Rd. It’s been around for a while (something like 11 years, I think!), but my husband doesn’t like Italian so we have never gone until now. I played the Mother’s Day card because I had a craving for creamy pasta, and off we went.
Bread, Cocktails, and Appetizers To Start
The restaurant is so beautiful on the inside! I was so pleasantly surprised. You would never ever guess that the space was a KFC for many years. The tables are beautifully set with layers of tablecloths, multiple sets of silverware, water and wine glasses, plates, and even a candle and flowers. If you have a 2-up table, this is a lot of stuff for a small table, and it gets quite crowded when the food comes out.
After taking our orders, our waiter brought out fresh bread and our drinks. The crusty bread was crispy on the outside and very soft on the inside. The dipping oil had lots of garlic which I love.
I started with the Margarita Sicilana and it was fantastic.
Then our appetizer from the daily specials menu arrived: Blue Crab Ravioli in a Lemon White Wine Cream sauce. This was fantastic, and my favorite part of the whole meal! I’m not a New Englander so I never learned to love lobster or clams or anything, but I LOVE some crab when I can get it. And just look at how silky that cream sauce looks. I was in love. We were actually scraping the sauce off the plate. I would have liked that as an entrée size.
Our entrees came with garden salads, which I didn’t get a photo of. They were okay (they were included with the entrees). Mostly iceberg with some other bits, and an olive and a crouton. I thought the house balsamic vinaigrette was really tasty.
But the star of my show was my Carbonara in angel hair pasta! I wanted a creamy pasta and I got it. This is how I like carbonara, Roman style. I will never forget the most amazing meal I ever had was straight up carbonara in Rome. There is nothing like it. Only egg, no cream, with huge pieces of crispy guanciale.
This dish had lots of egg, but maybe a little cream too, but that’s ok. They didn’t put peas in it which I abhor and other versions of carbonara include. Why? I will never know. But this was really delicious, and they use pancetta instead of guanciale. The pieces were small but totally saturated throughout.
Dave’s entree was a daily special: Red Snapper and Scallops in a Lemon Caper White Wine sauce. It wasn’t very pretty, that’s for sure. It kind of looked like a hot mess, but he enjoyed it and it tasted good. The portion of fish and scallops were very nice.
My second cocktail was an espresso martini and my goodness it was lovely. I like to get that as my second drink because it’s like dessert. Our waiter went missing for a while, so we had to actually flag down a different waiter who graciously brought it to me. A hero of the evening! Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it. It was quite, quite dark in the restaurant by this time and photos were getting to be difficult. I would have loved a spot closer to a window!
As we were leaving, we had one last chuckle. On the inside of the exterior door, it still says “Please Call Again.” The original KFC doors are still there!
Villaggio Ristorante Italiano
677 Hooksett Rd.
Manchester NH 03104