Vic's Italian Restaurant
Vic’s serves up authentic Italian food and old-school, Jersey Shore charm.
By Elana Knopp
Walk into Vic’s, and it’s the smells of traditional Italian food, Frank Sinatra, and old-school charm. What could be better?
Vic’s Restaurant, located in the heart of Bradley Beach, has been serving the Jersey Shore since 1947, with over four generations of authentic Italian food that has made Vic’s something of a tradition at the Shore.
With its iconic neon “tomato pies” signs that has become a familiar sight to both residents and visitors, Vic’s serves up traditional, homemade favorites like their famous pizza, Penne a la Vodka, Fettucine Alfredo, Ravioli, Chicken Marsala, and Eggplant Parmigiana.
Vittorio “Vic” Giunco opened Vic’s Tap Room shortly after prohibition was repealed in 1933 and, in 1947, Vic and his son, John, added thin-crust tomato pie “pizza” to the menu.
Travis Semblewski, general manager and co-owner of Vic’s, shared Vic’s secret of success with JerseyShoreVibe.
Vic's Iconic Neon
“Consistency and price are the keys to our longevity,” Semblewski said. “We take care to make sure we use the same ingredients and recipe so that what you have today was the same 20 or 30 years ago. Also, we keep our prices reasonable so a family can eat out more often without breaking the bank.”
According to Semblewski, when Vic Giunco and his wife, Carmela, emigrated from Italy, they brought their authentic Italian recipes with them.
“Most of the recipes can be attributed to his wife Carmela Giunco,” he said. “Others were developed over time.”
And it’s not only the recipes that have lived on. Walk into Vic’s, and you enter something of an anteroom to Vic’s illustrious history. On the wall is the original liquor license granted to Giunco, granted right after prohibition ended in 1933. Along the walls are old photographs of Giunco and his family.
Semblewski said that he created the room to be a testimonial to the history behind Vic’s, and the people who made Vic’s what it is today.
Semblewski said that part of what sets Vic’s apart is also its casual family atmosphere.
“When most other places try to be fancy, we cater to all generations, young and old, in our casual setting,” Semblewski said. “We are also a good family gathering place. We often play host to birthday parties and other special occasions. It's common for use to host parties of 10, 20 or more. It seems people think of us first when they have a special occasion.”
But, of course, said Semblewski, there is that main ingredient to success—the food.
“We have a great menu with a variety to suit all ages and tastes,” he said.
And what are some favorites?
“Pizza of course,” he said. “But we do have several other popular items. The top items are our Chicken Parmigiana, Marsala, Chicken Cacciatore, Lasagna, Eggplant, and Ravioli. All are homemade of course. My fav is the Chicken Marsala.”
Price is also key.
“We are reasonably priced so it is often that we see the same customers several times a month or even a week,” Semblewski said.
According to Semblewski, the restaurant industry has its share of challenges.
“Finding good seasonal produce is tough,” he said. “We do our best to buy local in the summer, especially Jersey tomatoes. Also, the restaurant business is fast and furious, especially in the summer. Trying to keep up is always a challenge.”
It also has its share of memorable moments.
“There have been so many interesting characters who have come through our doors over our 70 years,” Semblewski said. “Perhaps we could make a movie to cover it. We did host a lunch time birthday party for a person who turned 90. They had so many candles on the cake that when the candles were blown out it set the fire alarm off.
Vic’s tradition of authentic food and old-fashioned charm continues Giunco’s great grandchildren, who the operations today.
“We are a fourth- generation family business,” Semblewski said.
Vic’s is located at 60 Main Street in Bradley Beach. They can be reached at 732-774-8255, or visit their website at vicspizza.com
Executive Chef Keith Kohlman