We just returned from a terrific Fall Break trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana. I knew it was going to be a good trip when we came across Vinatelli’s Italian Cafe off I-69 north at the exit to the small town of Markle.
The kids had been asking to stop for lunch for about 20 minutes (mind you we’d only been in the car for about an hour and a half), but it seemed that every exit offered only McDonald’s and Subway. Ordinarily, Subway would be a good choice. However these Subways were attached to gas stations and I kind of have a personal rule against eating food from gas stations.
So when we passed a billboard advertising Vinatelli’s and a Dairy Queen, I was hopeful. It turns out my hope was well placed.
There was a large and friendly maitre’d statue greeting us when we walked in. The decor was cozy in that traditional Italian restaurant sense with rich red walls and red and white checked tablecloths. The menu offered food that definitely hit the spot for the cold and gray day.
I’m not a trained food critic, but I will say that house vinaigrette salad dressing was delicious. The boys scarfed down their generously-sized kid’s meal pizzas. Mike’s antipasta and my Italian sub were definitely a welcome change from the #3 with no onions at the golden arches. My only complaint? Diet Pepsi instead of Diet Coke — though I would soon find that’s a theme in the Fort Wayne area. Lunch for the five us, including tip, was $42. A little more than we would have paid at fast food, but definitely worth it.
What made our visit to Vinatelli’s worth blogging about, however, was the friendly staff. Our server, though quite busy, took the time to talk to us, asked where we were traveling from and to, and even laughed at my husband’s jokes.
More impressively, was the next day when I got an e-mail from the Fort Wayne Convention and Visitors Bureau (who sponsored our trip) letting me know that the good folks at Vinatelli’s had called to get word to me that my son had left his coat at their restaurant. If our server hadn’t taken the time to chat with us, she never would have known where we were going or had a clue how to try to reach us.
So, dear readers, if you’re headed north on I-69 and you want good food and friendly service, consider Vinatelli’s Italian Cafe, located off the interstate at Highway 224. For hours and quick peek at the menu, click here.