Victoria’s Italian Cuisine provides traditional meals for everyone
By Tom Baker
After my first visit to Victoria’s Italian Cuisine in Huber Heights, I recall looking at my companion and remarking how lucky people would be to have a decent restaurant next to their hotel. After a recent vacation that took us through many small towns, our stop halfway was tainted by the only place to grab a bite – Shoney’s. Without wasting further breath on that experience, let’s just say that as we drove away from Victoria’s and I looked into my rearview, I saw the Hampton Inn just behind the restaurant and sensed a bit of jealousy for those weary travelers fortunate enough to make their stopover there.
One of the newer additions to the dining options in Huber Heights, Victoria’s is located just off the Interstate 70/202 interchange, and sits next to the Hampton Inn, surrounded by fast food restaurants. Opening in early 2012, Victoria’s was once a Long John Silver’s as well as a Mexican restaurant called El Dorado, and you wouldn’t expect to find what their site refers to as a “quaint, family-owned restaurant” hidden among the sprawl along the highway. Don’t ask me why but, during the recent heat wave we had, I had Italian in mind and figured that they’d have their sea legs by now.
Despite the oppressive heat, we were in good spirits when we arrived on our first visit. It was a weeknight, so they were not terribly busy when we arrived. However, that changed as things picked up through the evening. The interior of the restaurant is almost what you might imagine – it looks like someone brought linens and silk florals into a freshly painted Long John Silver’s. Gone of course is any tacky nautical décor, replaced instead with simple, more upscale flourishes. You don’t get a strong fine dining vibe when you walk in, but it does come off much nicer than the adjacent businesses and thus presented a nice change of pace.
Much in the same way the ambiance sets the tone, the food also reflects an elevated but not haute cuisine dining experience. With entrees ranging from $5.99 Pasta Marinara at lunch to $21.99 for a mixed seafood dish, there really is something for everyone at most every price in between. Carnivores will enjoy dishes such as a Meat Lovers pizza or the Philly Cheese Steak Calzone ($7.99), vegetarians will be glad to see not only pizza options but standbys like Eggplant Parmesan ($12.99) and Fettucine Alfredo ($11.99) as well as Gnocchi Pesto ($12.99 w/shrimp option for an additional four bucks), and seafood fans can enjoy Victoria’s Salmon ($19.99), Shrimp Scampi ($16.99) or Lobster Ravioli ($14.99).
We tried the Tilapia Piccata ($15.99), a lightly breaded tilapia filet atop a mound of linguine in a butter, lemon and white wine sauce garnished with capers, and it was very good. Not Cleveland’s Little Italy good, but it would certainly do. The Eggplant Rollatini ($14.99), a must-try as I’ve always been hooked since my first taste at Mama DiSalvo’s many years ago, was also solid. Breaded and fried eggplant is rolled up around an onion, mushroom and spinach sauté, covered with marinara and cheese, and served with spaghetti. You almost can’t go wrong here, aside from the canned mushrooms. Pizza is also a safe bet here. We tried a vegetarian version as well as a nice Margherita with mozzarella, sliced roma tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil – tasty and attractive. Most entrees are accompanied by a house salad and garlic roll. The house salad is a standard iceburg/mesclun mix and their house-made Italian dressing is decent, but if you’ve got linens on the tables you should probably stay away from serving the dressing in lidded plastic cups. My only other gripe involves the garlic roll: If you’re going to call it a garlic roll, garlic it must have. I found disappointingly little garlic going on – please don’t tease me. Luckily the Cannoli ($6) that we tried for dessert offset any of the above issues. They were excellent, a sure bet for dessert.
Service at Victoria’s has always been very friendly and accommodating, but you can certainly still sense some hesitation which I would attribute to any residual jitters, having only been open for 6 months. Checks are hand-written, and if you’re coming with a larger party I would suggest as few checks as possible (which I always encourage when possible) as I observed some confusion on a recent visit where a server splitting checks struggled a bit. A full bar is available, and although the wine list here is short but covers generally required bases, my red wine was served very warm which is less than pleasant and affects quality – a quick polish of the wine glasses wouldn’t hurt either. Wine list pricing of glasses vs. bottles definitely steers you towards the latter, so if you are coming with a crew I’d suggest it.
The next time you’re in Huber and wondering if there is anything other than the chains and fast food joints that dot the main paths to and around Interstate 70, look for the little yellow building with the sign that reaches out into the sky, beckoning those lucky travelers who now have a little something different to try as they pass by.
Reach DCP food critic Tom Baker at TomBaker@DaytonCityPaper.com.