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Vesta offers casual, tasty, Italian fare

January 17, 2011

By Anne Chovey

Vesta Pizzeria & Family Restaurant on Main Street in Boonsboro has an interesting history. Vesta is the Roman goddess of fire and the owners of Vesta chose it specifically for its symbolism. Asaro's Pizza & Sub Shop was destroyed by fire in 2007. The owners decided to reopen in a new location just down the street and christened the pizza shop with a new name, Vesta, to reflect its history.

My dining companion, Pap Ricka, and I decided to visit one evening recently. The front door opens into a large room with the open kitchen on the right.  Along all three walls of the restaurant is a padded banquette with tables positioned in front of it. A number of tables are also in the center of the restaurant.  Pap and I were invited to sit anywhere and we chose a table beside the banquette. I briefly sat upon it but it was a bit sprung so I quickly shifted back to a chair.

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The restaurant was doing a brisk business at dinner time, the night Pap and I were there. There was one waitress, who also served as hostess and cashier, and one cook. Our waitress gave us menus to look at, but it was a long time before she came back to take our order.  She was very pleasant and enthusiastic, but had more to do than one person could easily manage.

The menu at Vesta includes appetizers, pizza, salads, wraps, subs and paninis. Italian dinners, such as spaghetti, lasagna and manicotti, round out the menu. Pizzas are offered in three sizes: 10, 14 and 16 inches with prices ranging from $7.75 to $15.75. Specialty pizzas include "The Warrior," a mega-meat pizza and "The Maryland Crab," a New York pizza with lump crab meat and Old Bay seasoning, both in three sizes from $10.95 to $16.95. Subs, both hot and cold, come on an 8-inch roll for $5.95 to $6.25. The dinners are $7.95 for spaghetti and meatballs up to $11.95 for chicken Parmesan. Beer, on tap and bottled, and a few wines are also available.

We decided to begin our meal with a Vesta Variety Sampler: chicken wings, bread sticks and mozzarella sticks for our appetizer.  Pap ordered a Mediterranean salad and a chicken parmigiana sub. I decided on an avocado club panini. It took quite some time for us to get our food.

The appetizer arrived first along with marinara sauce for dipping the bread and mozzarella sticks and blue cheese dressing for the chicken wings. We had our choice of dressing for the wings as well as a choice in temperature. We chose spicy. There were three herbed mini breadsticks which were soft and tasty. The mozzarella sticks were quite large and could have been fried just a bit longer -- the cheese was soft but not melted.  I think it is the contrast between the oozing cheese and the crispy coating which makes cheese sticks so inviting.  The marinara was good and added to the flavor of both the cheese and bread.

The chicken wings were outstanding. Neither of us had ever seen wings so large. They were huge and spicy without being overpowering. It was a challenge to maneuver the big wing into the little sauce dish, but we agreed to allow double dipping so it worked.

Pap's salad was fresh and had olives, feta cheese, pepperoncini as well as lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber. It was fairly large and he enjoyed it.

My panini came along with a healthy portion of french fries. A panino is a pressed sandwich with a crisp outside and a soft inside. In this case, a sub roll had been used and while the bottom of the panini was compressed, the top was not. Both sides showed nice grill marks, but the top remained about 1 1/2 inches tall. As it had been grilled, it was quite crunchy and difficult to eat. The filling was a nice filet of chicken, but the herbed mayonnaise was bland. The avocado had been mashed and spread on the bread. I love the silky texture of avocado, which was lost in the preparation. Avocado is also a very subtle flavor and needs appropriate seasoning to bring out its flavor. All in all, the sandwich was a disappointment and in retrospect, perhaps I should have ordered something with more of an Italian flair.

Pap fared much better with his chicken parmigiana, which came with potato chips. The sub roll was soft and awash with marinara, pieces of breaded chicken and melted cheese. It was very tasty. Pap said, "If you close your eyes, this tastes as if you are actually eating chicken Parmesan. It is delicious."

Our waitress checked back with us, when she was able. Both she and the cook worked their tails off while we were there. She gave us our check and then met us at the register take our payment.

Vesta is a good place to come with children or anytime you are in the mood for casual Italian fare. And be sure to check out the chicken wings --you won't be disappointed.

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

Vesta Pizzeria & Family Restaurant

Overall: 2.5 1/2

Food: 2.5 1/2

Service: 2.5 1/2

Ambiance: 2.5 1/2

Value: 3

Address: 2 S. Main St., Boonsboro

Hours:  11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Food: Pizza, subs, salads and Italian dinners.  There are many vegetarian options for pizza, subs and dinner.

Bathrooms:  Large and clean, although showing a bit of wear and tear.

Parking and handicapped accessibility:  Parking is available on the street, with ramps down to the sidewalk making it accessible.

Website: Vesta has a website at http://www.vestapizza.com/index.html <http://www.vestapizza.com/index.html>

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