Il Vecchio Restaurant, Monterey, CA

In Dining by Leslie Moore

Behind every great restaurant there is a story and in the case of Il Vecchio Restaurant in Monterey the story begins with a love for food. A man with no restaurant experience opened the Italian restaurant to provide delicious dishes, flavors and ingredients for the community that were originally inspired by his family’s love for food while living in Rome.

Further research revealed that the father, a psychotherapist, and his two daughters, one a model living in Rome and the other a sculptor and recent Pratt Grad, came together to create this unique Italian trattoria, Il Vecchio. The bar, workstations and tables are all made of reclaimed wood while the wooden chairs are a collection of vintage or antique pieces providing a lively atmosphere surrounded by heavenly aromas.
The prices are remarkably reasonable, especially considering the wonderful variety of dishes and obvious pride embedded in the service. We treated ourselves to Italian classics such as cozze al vino e aglio – mussels steamed in white wine, garlic, anchovies, chili, tomato, served over a toasted crostino,  verdure alla griglia – grilled zucchini, organic kale, sweet red peppers, handmade gnocchi al gorgonzola con mele – potato dumplings with gorgonzola cream with cooked fresh apples,  tagliolini alla carbonara – square cut pasta, pancetta (pork), egg, pecorino, black pepper , ragù d’agnello con pappardelle – lamb slow-cooked in red wine and tomatoes with wide-cut pasta , and of course, homemade tiramisu.
A kitchen full of expertly trained chefs masterfully created each dish with a bit of help all the way from Italy. From Maccheroni’s in Rome, a prominent chef came to train the Il Vecchio kitchen staff in the fine art of Italian tradition cooking. In this he did succeed. We left pleasantly impressed and delightfully satiated.