By Carla Selby

Fresh and homemade with love – this is what you get at Vetture’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to “Meet up to eat spaghetti and socialize,” as the popular Italian phrase “Fare Una Spaghettata,” translates to. You can order anything you want when you visit Vetture’s and you can rest assured that you’ll enjoy some of the most delicious and authentic Italian food around. Trust me, “conosco i miei polli” (I know my chicken!). Chicken is arguably the most common ingredient found in many dishes around the world, Italian or otherwise. Knowing your chicken (the basics), then, means you know what you’re talking about. As someone raised by an Italian mother and grandmother, from the small town of Pratola Peligna in the Abruzzo region of Italy, I know what I am talking about when it comes to quality Italian food.

Located on East Lake Road in the Brooker Creek Shopping Plaza, Vetture’s Restaurant and Pizzeria is a favorite amongst locals and has been since opening its doors almost nineteen years ago! They are quite famous for their delicious pizzas, mouth-watering classic Italian cuisine, affordable prices, and family atmosphere. At Vetture’s you are more than a customer; you are part of the family, so get ready to be greeted by name and with open arms. The atmosphere is perfect for any occasion, whether you’re looking for a place to bring the whole family (including the little ones), or you’d like a cozy night out with your significant other – Vetture’s has the art of hospitality down to a science and you will feel ready to dine, drink and relax at this favorite neighborhood establishment over and over again! 

“I work a few blocks away and it’s a battle to try and talk myself out of not getting lunch at Vetture’s every single day,” says frequent customer Melissa M. “Their lunch deals are amazing! I always go for the 2 HUGE and DELICIOUS slices of pizza and a drink for $5. It’s amazing!”

Even though I personally reside in Tarpon Springs, I visit Vetture’s regularly, sometimes with la mia mamma (my mother), so we can both enjoy some of those traditional Italian dishes we love so much. My mother’s “go to” are; the Pasta Alio (pasta sauteed with oil and garlic) and the Crispino Pie (Thin crust pizza, light marinara sauce topped with fresh mozzarella made in house, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, a touch of balsamic vinegar fresh garlic and olive oil.) For me, is the Chicken Kelli (tender cuts of chicken with artichokes, mushrooms, sauteed with white wine and garlic) and the Zuppa di Pesce (Calamari shrimp, clams and mussels served over linguini in a light marinara sauce.) Yum!

Vetture’s owners Rick and Dianne Maida have taken their values for quality family time, good food and hospitality, and turned a small restaurant into a real community staple. Everyone who works there is dedicated to bringing the community together, serving patrons with respect and providing a gathering locale for the area. 

When Rick and Dianne moved to the East Lake area in 1991, they both knew they had found home and a place to raise their four kids, Ricky, Jodi, Corey, and Kelli. Both Rick and Dianne are originally from New York. Rick’s mom and dad are both from Italy, and many of the recipes served at Vetture’s have been in the family for generations. 

As such a longstanding part of the community, the Maida family has had the opportunity to welcome new generations of families into their restaurant and hearts. 

Rick, former East Lake Eagles football coach, says, “We hosted team dinners for years here, and I am proud to say that the team still comes to Vetture’s to meet, eat and talk sports. Some kids I coached years ago come in with their new families, and it has been amazing to see new generations and family traditions forming here at Vetture’s.” 

Dianne, Rick and Chef Paulie work together to keep Vetture’s a local favorite that honors Italian tradition and cuisine. Chef Paul Pennacchini is originally from Rhode Island and has more than 30 years of accumulated restaurant experience under his belt. Paul has been working with Rick for many years; his passion and love for food is evident in every dish he creates at Vetture’s. Rick says, “Paul is passionate for his work, and he seems to enjoy every bit of it.” The family recipes, paired with Chef Paulie Pennacchini’s passion for creating delicious meals, make Vetture’s genuinely authentic, 100 percent Italian!

Truly a place that has options for everyone, Vetture’s strives to please and that they do! Frequent visitor David says, “I am a regular here; in fact, I’m basically like always here. The service here is great; the servers, bussers, hostess, and managerial staff treat you like family. And the food, the food is delicious! I can’t think of a dish here created by Chef Pauli that I don’t thoroughly enjoy. Some of my favorites: Meat Lasagna, Fettuccini Alfredo, Chicken Mama Rosa, Eggplant Corey to name a few! Give this place a try if you’re in the area; you won’t go wrong!”

Another customer states, “This pizzeria always delivers what we want: good quality, great prices and prompt service with a smile. Their standard cheese pizza is great, better than just about every other one we’ve tried in the area. But their gourmet pizzas shine! The “Grandma” pizza has a very crispy thin crust with cheese and a special basil topping, plus some tomato sauce. It also has a little bit of spice for kick, which I tremendously enjoy. The “Crispino” pizza is also a thin crust pizza with a light marinara sauce topped with fresh mozzarella (made in-house), fresh tomato slices, fresh basil, fresh garlic, and olive oil and a touch of balsamic drizzled on top. We enjoy both so much that it’s hard to choose!” 

Vetture’s is a slice of home for everyone! The employees love it, the East Lake community loves it, and you are sure to love it too! Check out Vetture’s for a plate of love, Italian style, “just like mama made it” – only this time, bring along your mother and let Chef Paulie do the cooking! 

Remember, “Tutto finische a tarallucci e vino,” (It all ends with some biscuits and wine). So make sure you enjoy your meal with some wine and finish it with a delicious homemade dessert! 

Whether you dine in, carry out or have your meals delivered, Vetture’s makes it easy. You can even order online! Catering services also available.

Vetture’s Restaurant and Pizzeria is located at 36137 East Lake Rd. in Palm Harbor (at Brooker Creek Shopping Center). Vetture’s hours:  Mon. – Thurs., 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. from 11 a.m. – 10:00 p.m; and 12 – 9:30 p.m. on Sun. or call (727) 787-4858.