It’s usually a good sign that a restaurant is worth visiting when all the tables are filled with patrons. Since opening in mid 2020, business at Vieni Ristobar Italian eatery in downtown Holly Springs has been bustling.
So, why is Vieni so popular? For starters, virtually everything is made from scratch daily, including the pasta. What’s more, friendly, efficient service is executed by well-trained staff.
But make no mistake when it comes to what sets this restaurant apart from many others: It’s the presence of vivacious proprietor Randi Cinelli, a woman who makes every customer feel welcome and appreciated.
“The main reason we are here is to create a memorable experience for each guest,” says Cinelli, whose family is well-regarded in the Triangle’s Italian restaurant scene. “We want you to order something that we have created and know that it was made fresh to order.”
Vieni, which means “come eat with me” in Italian, has quickly become a popular spot for locals to frequent time and again.
“We want to be the restaurant in town people visit often and consider their go-to place,” Cinelli says. “We love Holly Springs and want to be a big part of the community for years to come.”
The moment you step inside the dining room, you can’t help but notice the striking 20-seat bar. “This is an informal restaurant built around a bar,” Cinelli explains.
Witty, framed signs like “Feed Me Pizza and Tell Me I’m Pretty” and “Joey Doesn’t Share Food” (a nod to the TV sitcom “Friends”) hang on a long wall, further adding to the eatery’s unpretentious vibe.
Whether you go for the pizza, the entrees or even the appetizers, there’s plenty to like about Vieni’s mouthwatering menu.
Start your meal with a plate of long-stemmed artichokes involving mascarpone, mozzarella and goat cheese. Or consider the crispy, deep-fried Sicilian rice balls filled with black Angus beef, green peas and provolone.
If you have a hankering for pasta, order the spaghetti carbonara, lobster ravioli or the hearty house specialty Pappardelle Bolognese. It’s all generously portioned and meticulously plated.
Standout entrees include Salmon Positano with spinach, shallots and garlic cream sauce, a sherry-laden Sorrentino (grilled eggplant) and the delectable pan-seared Chicken Francaise, which Cinelli calls “next-level good.”
As for the pizza, nearly a dozen specialty pies vie for consideration. If you’re feeling adventurous, choose the fig jam-topped prosciutto & arugula. Or, for a can’t-go-wrong option, there’s “Cinelli’s Famous” Grandma Margherita featuring Italian plum tomato sauce, fresh basil, garlic, mozzarella, oregano and grated parmesan cheese.
Eight of the pizzas are available in gluten-free varieties, including New York style, white and vegetarian. Pizza by the slice is available at lunchtime.
Three-cheese calzone and classic Stromboli stuffed with pepperoni, meatballs, sausage, onions, peppers and mozzarella are guaranteed to fill you up and will likely supply leftovers for lunch the next day. First-rate ingredients elevate the cuisine. Even the grated parmesan in the shakers on each table comes from a cheese wheel.
“We use vine-ripened Alta Cucina tomatoes, an east coast blend of Grande Mozzarella and herbs like basil, rosemary and sage from our garden out back,” Cinelli says. “When you sit down, you’re getting real food made with attention to detail.”
If you manage to save room for dessert, choose from house-made tiramisu, lemon ricotta cheesecake, cannoli or chocolate-shelled tartufo featuring chocolate and vanilla gelato crowned with shaved almonds.
Creative craft cocktails like the vodka-tinged mango jalapeno, a Bulleit Old Fashioned and the signature sangria keep things lively.
“Our homemade sangria is my personal recipe,” Cinelli reveals. “It starts with a really good red-wine base and includes triple sec and muddled fresh fruit. It’s always made to order and is really refreshing.” A thoughtful selection of beer and white and red wines are also available.
Vieni is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more. Al fresco dining is available but be sure to arrive early to snag one of these choice tables.
242 South Main St. (Town Hall Commons), Holly Springs