Lines of hungry, waiting Italophiles are almost always found outside this tiny, deceptively humble-looking eatery. Vini has just 35 seats (crammed together at laminated plywood tables) and doesn’t accept reservations. But once you’ve finally nabbed a spot and your food arrives, any lingering annoyance immediately disappears: the rustic, hearty dishes here are well worth the wait. Braised pork, rolled in fresh egg pasta, is accompanied by an aromatic tomato sauce; crisp-edged crostini come topped with fresh ricotta, baked salami, and olive-oil-drizzled roasted red peppers. The daily-made pappardelle, served in a ragu Bolognese, is nothing short of sublime; so is a meal-finishing mug of thick, dark, locally roasted coffee.
Tip: Around the corner from Vini is a reclaimed former shipping container that’s been transformed into a small bar; while you wait for a dinner seat, pop in for a glass of Pinot and some salumi. The bartender will tell you when your table’s ready.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.