Lisa LaMonica has worked in the restaurant industry for more than 40 years.
On October 1, 2022, she fulfilled her dream of opening a restaurant with her family. Vuoloâ€™ Ristorante and Bar, situated adjacent to Ingleside Park, is a modern, Italian restaurant, operated by LaMonicaâ€™s four sons, husband, and long-time friends.
â€œFinally, after working for other people for such a long time, it was the right time to open our own place,â€ said Lisa, who had been folding navy blue, cloth napkins. â€œCustomers say that they like the vibe, and feel like theyâ€™re in Boston. Itâ€™s an upper-class, chic restaurant. Weâ€™re building our clientele in Winthrop, and there are a lot of faces we enjoy.â€
The menu was created by brothers, Stephen LaMonica, executive chef, and Michael LaMonica, director of operations, with recipes inspired by meals the family shared growing up.
â€œWe took a lot of traditional family recipes and made them our own,â€ explained Stephen. â€œI try not to limit the food in such a way that it canâ€™t grow into something else. Itâ€™s classic, Italian food with a modern twist.â€
Bar Manager Joseph LaMonicaâ€™s globally-influenced cocktails, with made-in-house syrups and spirit infusions, compliment Stephenâ€™s menu.
â€œOne of our most popular cocktails is a Japanese old fashioned. Weâ€™re not confined to what people consider to be Italian cocktails. Iâ€™ve always been a huge cocktail fan, and studied global culture,â€ revealed Joseph. â€œWe had the opportunity to create a concept that a lot of restaurants werenâ€™t doing around us. Itâ€™s a higher-end cocktail bar with quality in-house foods.â€
Joseph will be introducing pisco sour (a traditional Peruvian brandy cocktail with citrus notes) later this month. On the specials menu for Saint Patrickâ€™s Day, Vuoloâ€™s is offering Lucky You, a rum and crÃ¨me de cocao dessert drink infused with mint, and topped with pistachio foam that is dusted with cocoa powder.
â€œI never want to be limited by shutting the door to flavors. We will adapt with the times,â€ said Joseph, who mentioned that Vuoloâ€™s serves vegan and glutton-free options.
Stephen makes the pasta in house â€“ fusilli, linguine, gnocchi, pappardelle, and ravioli. He is especially fond of the ravioli di aragosta, ravioli stuffed with lobster meat, ricotta, and mozzarella, with cherry tomatoes and spinach in a white cream sauce. Desserts are also homemade by two of Vuoloâ€™s waitresses.
â€œPolenta fries are my favorite. I think theyâ€™re the most unique dish; and a lot of people arenâ€™t familiar with it. The drink that I am most happy with â€“ and is original to me â€“ is The Book Maker,â€ chuckled Joseph. â€œIt utilizes a liqueur called Strega, from the Benevento region of Italy, where our grandfather is from. It has 60 herbs and spices, so it pairs well with citrus. It has a complex flavor that is up to the interpretation of the drinker.â€
Vuoloâ€™s, located at the corner of Walden and Lincoln Streets, in the former 1888 Narrow Gauge Railroad train depot, was built by Lisaâ€™s contractor husband and co-owner, Joseph LaMonica, who kept an existing brick wall that is featured in the dining area. A 19th century beer bottle that was discovered during renovations is displayed over the bar.
The restaurant was titled after Lisaâ€™s maiden name in honor of her late parents, Stephen Pasquale and Giustina Vuolo, who raised six children in Everett and Malden. Giustina served in a cafeteria for 30 years, and her husband, Stephen Pasquale, worked as a cobbler for 55 years at his shop, Steveâ€™s Shoe Repair, on Norwood Street, in Everett.
â€œWe were able to open this restaurant because of my parents helping us,â€ said Lisa. â€œMy parents worked so hard their whole lives. My mother was a giving, caring person. My father worked morning, noon, and night. The only day he got off was Sunday nights. He was the best guy in the whole world.â€
Some of Josephâ€™s fondest memories of his papa were spending Sundays at his summer lake house in Derry, New Hampshire, and the smell of shoe polish and glue in his workshop.
Stephen Pasquale and Giustinaâ€™s selflessness and perseverance are reflected each day in the Vuoloâ€™s cuisine, meticulousness, and mementos. The restaurant is decorated with cobbler tools, antique kitchen utensils, and black and white photographs of family and local residents.
Lisa and Stephen cared for Stephen Pasquale and Giustina for a year-and-a-half before their passing, cooking meals for them nearly every day.
â€œI learned a lot about what my grandparents ate growing up. No matter what you cooked for my grandfather, heâ€™d say, â€˜oh, itâ€™s good, but itâ€™s not as good as mine,â€™â€ recalled Stephen. â€œIt was fun being able to experiment with them and learn traditional recipes that their parents made for them. I find that inspiring when I make a new dish at the restaurant.â€
Polenta fries are also Lisaâ€™s favorite item on the menu, and remind her of her childhood. She boasted about their deliciousness, and how Stephen adds cheeses, and lightly deep-fries the polenta.
â€œWeâ€™re a family-oriented restaurant, and have a physical and emotional attachment,â€ expressed Joseph. â€œMy dad is from Winthrop, and he is carrying a tradition of giving back to the community he grew up in.â€
Visit Vuoloâ€™s Ristorante & Bar, 140 Lincoln Street, Winthrop, Monday â€“ Thursday, 4-9pm, and Friday and Saturday, 3-10pm. Call (781) 322-4068 for reservations. The LaMonica Family is excited to see Vuoloâ€™s featured on the Phantom Gourmet this spring.
â€œThe restaurant is not open on Sundays so we can do things as a family. If someone wants a Christening or Communion party, we will come in for private functions on Sundays. Thatâ€™s the only thing that I wanted to stress. You need that one day to regroup,â€ inhaled Lisa with a composing breathe.