By Lesley Snyder
“Villa” connotes quintessential countryside elegance – an aesthetic combining rural landscape with the architecture of affluence. It is a monument of charm, character, and comfort. In similar fashion, La Villa Bistro & Pizzeria skillfully entwines a refined menu with a casual dining environment. A smile from the host and a seat in the softly lit dining room immediately puts me at ease. This restaurant may be tucked into Shelburne, but it’s a tough competitor for all Italian-American eateries around town. Owners Jill and Adam Spell opened La Villa in 1995 and have since expanded into a full-menu catering service. Whether it’s lasagna take-out for 12 or a full-bar, on-site event, La Villa’s fresh produce, local meats, and house-made pasta stay delicious from café to casa.
On a rainy Thursday evening, I’m in the market for summery refreshment. The server recommends La Villa’s take on a New Orleans’ classic: the Hurricane, a medley of fruit juices blended with light and dark rum. After a day at the Shelburne beach, this sweetly satisfying cocktail is sure to knock the sand off your feet. But I need to keep those feet on the ground, so I balance my beverage with savory Gorgonzola Flatbread. This appetizer is handmade and baked to crisp perfection, the ideal palette for a sweep of roasted garlic cloves. The garlic tastes as if freshly peeled, roasted into a mellow, slightly-sweet spread. While the gorgonzola adds a salty bite, the garlic is a buttery, flavorful addition to this hearty bread. My entrée keeps the promise of local products and features Misty Knoll Farms. Tender chicken bathed in a thick, tangy maple bourbon sauce, it’s a comforting dish to ease diners into the coming fall months. Add a fluff of garlic mashed potatoes and a crunch of sautéed broccolini, and you won’t mind the late-summer chill. Even after a delicious meal, a restaurant isn’t picture-perfect until it’s framed by attentive and pleasant servers – and La Villa has it all in focus. Their wait staff is everything you’d want in tableside service: so friendly and accommodating, you wouldn’t mind if they pulled up a chair.
La Villa doesn’t just fill your plate; it’ll stock your wine rack too. Enoteca, the Spell’s wine shop adjacent to the bistro-café, will turn two this September. Jill is looking forward to restarting her wine club at the restaurant next month, where she provides wine tasters with the perfect pairings of sips and snacks. From wine to dine, La Villa is easy upscale that will certainly charm its way into your summer day.
La Villa Bistro & Pizzeria is located at 3762 Shelburne Road in Tenneybrook Square. The dining room is open Monday-Saturday 11 am-9 pm and Sunday 4-8:30 pm. For more information about the wine club, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.