Spring Valley favorite still dishing up classic Italian comfort food
Sometimes when dining out, you want new, flashy and exciting, and other times, you want good, homemade favorites done right. It's on those nights Verucchi's likely always will fit the bill.
My dining companions and I decided to go for a carryout from the longtime Spring Valley favorite, known for its long history of serving the best family-style chicken, pastas and classic Italian fare around.
In a community where every second dining establishment offers its take on tavern-fried chicken, ravs and sandwiches, Verucchi's has carved out a niche all its own over the last 100 years.
Despite a nearly 30-minute drive one way, my food was delivered to my car almost to the minute predicted, and was still steaming hot when I arrived home.
For four of us, we chose two orders of family-style chicken, which consists of four pieces of mixed fried chicken with salad, choice of potato and spaghetti and "ravs" with meat sauce and bread. I also added an order of spaghetti and meatballs, the special of the day, an appetizer of fried polenta strips and for dessert, cannoli.
Pre-COVID, family style when carried out came with coleslaw instead of a salad, and fries as the potato choice, but I was happy to note there was the regular option of salad and potato, likely because the restaurant is doing so much carryout. The salad and bread are always fresh and delicious, and seem like a nice little bonus to the meal.
We went with fries for one order and American fries for the other. Guys, let me tell you, American fries are the unsung hero here. They're so buttery and salty and greasy and oniony with little browned bits that are heaven.
The chicken, for me, bests any in the Illinois Valley, with a light ultra crispy flaky batter and consistently good chicken inside.
The spaghetti and ravs are a favorite as well. Even with two of my dining companions being notoriously picky about their meat sauce, we didn't have a drop left over of those sides.
I can't recall ever having ordered plain old spaghetti and meatballs from a restaurant before, but I wanted to sample their meatballs and it was the special, so this was the opportunity.
It's offered with meat or marinara sauce, we chose meat, and comes with two good-sized meatballs somewhere between golf ball and baseball size, full of flavor with a great firm yet moist mixture. They were the star of the dish.
The fried polenta got more of a mixed reaction, but only because we aren't all polenta fans and sometimes I just have to order something for myself. An order comes with four slabs, fried until crispy on the edges, then draped with melted cheese and served with a side of marinara sauce. It hits all the right notes with the crisped edges, gooey cheese and hearty chunky sauce.
The cannoli likewise is a personal favorite, and for $7, you get three mini, yet decent-sized pieces. If you're someone who doesn't like to share your food, be warned about ordering this in a restaurant because the multiple pieces make it more likely the dessert pirates will hijack some.
We spent about $65 before tip, and for the four of us probably have at least enough left for another light meal.
If you're looking for some classic homemade Italian favorites and don't want to do the cooking, have Verucchi's on speed dial.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff when ordering or picking up the food. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.