By Cathy Wharton
For Hometown News
Two things you need to know before you visit DeVinci's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria: First, bring a hearty appetite; and second, have a craving for some of the best Italian food in town. Located on North U.S.1 in Ormond Beach, DeVinci's is a must for those who are looking for authentic Italian fare.
Owner Dominick Falletta knows the joy of preparing good food. But how he got into the business is a story all its own. It began 45 years ago when he immigrated to the U.S. from his home in Palermo, Sicily. Soon after, he found work at one of the most famous dining establishments in New York - 'Mama Leone's'. Seven years later, he was working for Famous Ray's, a well-known pizzeria in Greenwich Village. In time, however, Dominick Falletta was ready for a change. He moved to Florida and opened his own restaurant 'ouch of Italy in New Smyrna Beach. After 12 years of operation, he sold the business and moved to Ormond Beach, where he opened another restaurant, Bella Sera, in the Trails Shopping Center. Eventually, he sold it, then retired.
But retirement for Mr. Falletta was short-lived. It didn't take long for "the itch" (as he put it) to return. When a restaurant called 'DeVinci's' became available, he saw an opportunity to once again do what he loves --- prepare and serve quality Italian food. In October 2010, Dominick Falletta became chief and chef of yet another restaurant venture.
On the day I arrived at DeVinci's, I was warmly greeted by co-owner, Tom Zahnen, and server, Chelsa Graver, who has been with the business since it opened. A short while later, I was introduced to Mr. Falletta and his son, Marco, who also tends to the business. I then settled into a booth in the mid-section of the restaurant. As I would soon find out, dining at DeVinci's isn't just a meal - it's an experience.
The atmosphere at DeVinci's allows a relaxing, unhurried pace. I started with a glass of wine. From there, it was perfection all the way. The menu offers a "what's what" of familiar Italian mainstays --- calzones, stromboli, pasta dishes, baked dishes, seafood, and more. There is also an ample choice of appetizers, such as fried cheese ravioli and garlic knots; and salads, such as Greek, spinach and antipasto.
And of course, there is pizza. At DeVinci's, the crust and sauce are both homemade, and each pizza is hand-crafted, then topped according to customer choice. The list of toppings includes items such as chicken, shrimp, artichokes and eggplant. In addition, DeVinci's offers two types of pizza: New York style, thin crust, in three sizes (personal, medium and large), and Sicilian, or deep dish, at a sizable 12 x18 inches. There is also pizza by the slice. Five specialty pizzas are offered as well: Bianco, Meaty, Hawaiian, Alfredo Carbonara and Chicken Parmigiana.
Another item on DeVinci's menu is "Marco's Stromboli Challenge," which goes like this: Order a 3-foot long stromboli loaded with toppings for $22.99 and if you can eat the whole thing, sauce included, in 30 minutes or less, it's free. Though many people have tried, only three have ever finished the 'Challenge,' one of whom added a cannoli! OMG!
DeVinci's also offers dishes that are not on the menu. Posted on the board the day I was there were two specials --- Spinach Cannelloni and Penne Rustica. Both sounded great, and very tempting; but my palate called for eggplant, so I stayed with the menu.
When I was ready to order, my server, Chelsa, surprised me with a plate of garlic knots and a cup of Chef Falletta's homemade marinara sauce. Absolutely delicious! I could have dined on that alone! But since everything at DeVinci's is homemade breads, sauces, soups and more, I decided on variety. I couldn't resist a slice of pizza, New York style, with added mushrooms. I then ordered a small garden salad made of crisp Romaine lettuce. For the main course, I chose the "Godmother Combo," a combination of manicotti, stuffed shells and eggplant florentine. Not long after, the entree arrived --- hot and bubbly, and brimming with melted cheese. This was not a micro warm-up (DeVinci's doesn't use microwave ovens) --- this was straight from a real oven. It was wonderful! And authentic.
But it wasn't over yet. Once again, a surprise --- this time a homemade cannoli. It, too, was hard to resist.
In addition to the evening fare, DeVinci's serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The menu includes Italian subs, pasta dishes and baked dishes; also lunch specials, Monday through Saturday. New to the lunch selection is a chicken-bacon flatbread, plus wheat wraps - Greek, Italian and chicken Caesar. Take-out and delivery is also available.
For those who like excellent Italian food prepared the old-fashioned way, DeVinci's is it.
DeVinci's Restaurant is located at 197 N. Young St., Suite 3, Ormond Beach. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday. Phone: (386) 673-2504.