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Vito's Pizza Star IV Restaurant

October 14, 2010

Vito's Pizza Star IV Restaurant

By ANNE CHOVEY

Special to The Herald-Mail

For our next dining adventure, my companion, Pap Ricka, and I decided to try Vito's, the new restaurant in the old Burhans Station location. (You know you are getting old when you reference everything by saying "where the such-and-such used to be.")

Vito's is actually called Vito's Pizza Star IV Restaurant. Pizza Stars I through III are located in several towns in Pennsylvania.

The inside of the restaurant was virtually identical as when it was Burhans Station including the pictures of trains on the walls.

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As was the case with the earlier restaurant, you enter into a large open area and walk toward the back. The dining area is just past the bar and is full of tables in the center and booths around the walls.

We were met by a charming young man who introduced himself as Vito, the owner. He promised to make sure we had a great dining experience. He seated us and handed us both a bound menu and a printed sheet of every kind of Italian food imaginable.  We asked what wine was available and he gave us the wine list.

Vito was short-handed on the evening we dined. He said his wait staff was on maternity leave, so he took our order.

The choices were a bit confusing as there did not seem to be any coordination between the two menus. However, the choices were nearly endless: fettuccine alfredo with shrimp or chicken or broccoli; spaghetti with clams (red or white sauce), with marinara, with marinara with meatballs or sausage, or just plain.

Everything was reasonably priced with most of the items on the printed sheet listed at $10.50 or less. Items in the bound menu were a bit more expensive, $16 to $20.

After much deliberation, we choose an appetizer of jalapeno poppers.

Vito brought us our wine, which was promptly followed by our salads and a sliced loaf of warm Italian bread. The salads were cold and very fresh. They were a nice mix of lettuces, cucumber, tomato and red onion. The dressing was served on the side. We were off to a good start.

The jalapeno poppers came hot out of the fryer and were served with a marinara sauce.

Although they looked delicious, they were a bit of a disappointment: the peppers had no heat to them and the marinara sauce did not enhance the flavor.

Vito also did not bring us individual plates for the appetizer, which made it a bit of a challenge to eat.

For our entrée, I chose veal scaloppini with mushrooms and a brandy cream sauce. Pap got manicotti with sausage. While we were waiting on our food, we chatted with the folks at a nearby table. They were raving about their dinners. They seemed to have adopted Vito and said they loved the restaurant and came about once a week.

A very short time later, Vito brought us our dinners. Mine was a huge plate of veal smothered with mushrooms in a thick brown sauce.

The veal was very nicely cooked, tender and not a bit tough, which can be difficult to get just right. And there were a ton of mushrooms.

I didn't really like the sauce. I found it to be too thick and definitely too sweet. It seemed to me that it overwhelmed the veal.

Pap absolutely loved his manicotti. The noodles were filled with a fluffy ricotta cheese and where the marinara sauce failed with the jalapeno poppers, it was redeemed with the manicotti. The sausage was a sliced sweet Italian sausage, tender and delicious.  It was yummy.

Vito checked back with us several times to see how we were doing It was easy to see that he wanted us to enjoy ourselves and to enjoy his food.

He gave us a copy of the printed sheet as a take-out menu. Not only are there many entreés, but there is a whole page of pizzas and subs made from bread made on the premises. Most of the subs were $4 to $6.

We decided against dessert but looked at the case, which was full of different kinds of cheesecake among other things. We paid our bill and Vito wished us a good evening and thanked us for our generosity. What a nice fellow!

Anne Chovey is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail freelance writer who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.

Vito's Pizza Star IV Restaurant

3 (out of 5)

Food:  2 1/2

Service: 3 1/2

Ambiance: 3 1/2

Value: 3

Address: 301 S. Burhans Blvd., Hagerstown

Hours:  11 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11  p.m. Friday and Saturday

Phone: 301-714-0777

Style: Casual dining

Food: Italian, pizza and subs.  There are many vegetarian options.

Range: Entrées range from $10.50 to $20

Bathrooms:  Some of the bathrooms were under construction.  The available ones were clean and accessible for a wheelchair.

Parking and handicapped accessibility: There is some street parking near the restaurant and a gravel lot across the street.

Reservations: Not necessary

Website:  Vito's lists a website, but it could not be accessed.

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