Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller (Follow him on Instagram: @eatindywatchindie)
This week, our food journey takes us south of Indy to a quaint wine bar and bistro that needs to be at the top of every foodie’s to-do list. Vino Villa is located in downtown Greenwood at 200 N Madison Ave and the cat needs to be let out of the bag because this place is the real deal.
Not only do they have an amazing selection of wines and cheeses and an excellent food menu, but they are really some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. When owners Paul and Laura Jacquin originally opened in 2010, they never dreamed of it becoming the place it is today. It started out as only a wine and cheese shop, but the local residents wanted more–a place to sit and enjoy their wine and maybe even have dinner. As they say, the rest is history.
Vino Villa occupies a charming historic house that was originally built in 1904 by a prominent family in the Greenwood area. The renovated place oozes with character and some even say it’s haunted. If that’s true, that’s one lucky ghost! The house has three floors with each serving its own purpose: the bottom floor is the wine and cheese shop where you can grab and go, the second floor has four separate rooms that serve as the dining area for the bistro, and the top floor is the bar area where you can go for dinner and drinks (and if you’re lucky, some live music). The house is quite impressive, but the showstopper at Vino Villa is the outdoor patio area. I know, I know, patio season is behind us, but before you know it, the birds will be singing and the flowers will be blooming.
Many of you will want to visit Vino Villa for the wine, but I’m here to tell you to stay for the food–it is really good! The food is made from scratch out of their tiny little kitchen (you really have to see it to believe it) but is big on taste. The chef-driven menu kicks off with an assortment of delicious starters and salads and then it’s on to the classic dishes, sandwiches, and pizza. Never fear, they didn’t forget about dessert (and neither should you). Vino Villa uses fresh ingredients in a lot of their dishes, so the menu does change seasonally. I’ve really fallen in love with this place and can’t wait to get back, but until then, I can offer up the four menu items that I feel you “can’t miss” on your next visit.
Chicken Pesto Pizza: I’m one of those people who loves taking pictures of my food and sharing on Instagram (@eatindywatchindie if you want to give a follow), and I knew I had something special when I first laid eyes on this picture-perfect pie. I can’t take credit for the picture below, which was taken by Dave Pluimer (@davepluimer if you want to give a follow), who is much better at that sort of thing than I am, but just look at it. That picture alone should have you making plans for dinner in Greenwood tonight. Let’s dive deep into what makes it so special. We have to start with that crispy house-made crust, the solid foundation on which this pizza is built (they also offer a gluten-free version for those of you with a gluten intolerance). From there, they top it with juicy chunks of chicken, sun-dried tomato, red onion, three different types of cheese, and last but not least, delicious pesto. Seeing is believing, but better yet, tasting is believing.
Goat Cheese Praline Cheesecake: I have professed my love of goat cheese ad nauseum in this column, but never have I talked about my love of goat cheese cheesecake. That’s all about to change. First off, who’s the genius who came up with this idea: take the greatest cheese on Earth (my apologies to feta) and marry it with the greatest dessert on earth? The cheesecake is light and fluffy with a super creamy texture. The goat cheese flavor is definitely present but not overwhelming at all. It’s really the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. To make this masterpiece even better, it is topped with delectable pralines. I think we might need to change the spelling of this dessert to G.O.A.T. cheese praline cheesecake.
Baked Greek Kasseri: Kasseri is a semi-hard Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk that’s somewhat comparable to mozzarella. When baked, the cheese melts and gets all gooey and stringy, which is perfect for making a dip. Lemon is added to give the dish some zing. It is served with fresh bread for dipping and Kalamata olives to add that final Greek touch.
Lobster Mac n Cheese: At this point in my life, I pretty much consider mac n cheese as a part of my family and I love it when a restaurant gives it the proper treatment it deserves. In the case of Vino Villa, that proper treatment comes in the form of succulent lobster. They combine it with cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta and a creamy blend of gruyere, fontina, mascarpone and white cheddar…that’s right, four, count ’em, four cheeses! Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and then bake until golden brown. Pro tip: if you plan on eating this all by yourself, I’d suggest skipping lunch that day.
South siders might want to keep this hidden gem all to themselves, but that would be unfair to the rest of us foodies. Head south, my friends!