Shelburne Village’s Cucina Antica was bustling and cheery and no one batted an eye when my family of three kids under six were seated on a Friday night at 5:30. Before we got a glimpse of the menu, we noticed what seems to be the best Vermont family-friendly trend; a kids’ area. Antica’s is topped off with chalkboard walls and indeed, my children were absolutely thrilled and engaged by all it has to offer.
The waitress was friendly and quick to suggest an organic Pinot Noir to my husband, who was delighted with the wine. We ordered a standard fare pizza; whole wheat, half cheese, half pepperoni although the pie that we devoured was anything but standard. Although my kids have been raised on whole wheat, I am a Jersey Girl at heart and am somewhat skeptical of anything but a white crust pizza. It was nutty and the crust was dotted with herbs and a bit of oil. As a tried and true crust-leaver, I was surprised to find myself heartily reaching for the kids’ crust. Yes, that good.
Before our entrees were delivered, we each had a small plate of greens, drizzled with maple-balsamic vinaigrette. I’m a firm believer in syrup for pancakes only, but this mom and pop have changed my mind. Light and tasty, I had to remind myself not to lick the plate.
For an entree I ordered the lobster alfredo. The dish was comprised of dreamy house-made linguine, topped with a lobster cream sauce that was heavenly and sweet. The dish was perfectly hinted with tomato, basil and arugula and had generous pieces of lobster knuckle and claw. The portion was big enough that I had plenty to take home with me for lunch the next day.
My husband ordered a special; the filet of beef with au gratin potato and beef demi. He ate it so quickly and heartily that I didn’t get a bite or a good look. Everyone, kids included, was totally engrossed in his/her plate. My husband reported back that it was “one of the best steaks he’s had in a long time.”
My husband and I shared a chocolate dipped cannoli for dessert and the kids had their pick of Ben and Jerry’s treats from the freezer. The cannoli filling was creamy and the pastry shell was crispy. The chocolate on the ends was the perfect compliment, although I really would suggest ordering your own! Locals gush over the lemon cake, so if citrus is your thing, give it a go!
The atmosphere was truly family-friendly and it was apparent by the full house and constant stream of pizza boxes that I’m not alone in my absolute love for Cucina Antica. The very next week we began our Friday night pizza with a to-go order. I had an individual special white pizza with goat cheese, bacon, caramelized onions and arugula. My five year old was tantalized and not only ate half of my pizza but requested the pizza with “the bacon, funny cheese and green stuff” the next Friday. The pizza menu is inventive and utilizes fresh, local and organic ingredients. The specials are posted daily on Facebook and Antica offers a “buy 6, get 1 free” card for enthusiasts.
Cucina Antica is no secret for most locals, but for this new Vermonter, it’s a breath of fresh air.