On the outskirts of town in Palm Desert is a mall with some great stores and Pizzeria Villagio, being the main attraction. Pizzeria Villagio Italian Kitchen delivers a menu of Italian-American favorites. It is bright, lively and would be a great place for any local’s or tourists to try some very authentic Italian Food. That is a huge plus because there are no more seasonal visitors, they now come year round.
Pizzeria Villagio first opened its doors in 2011, celebrating its seminal, pizza-centric, concept with the Coachella Valley. Over the years, Pizzeria Villagio has attracted a wonderfully broad array of guests and palates. They continue this evolution with their new menu featuring beautiful Neapolitan-style pizzas along with many other Italian-American standards and the addition of their flame-roasted Rotisserie dishes. Villagio Italian Kitchen serves up authentic Italian classics, Neapolitan-style pizzas, salads, flame-roasted Rotisserie and a hearty array of appetizers. The restaurant underwent a renovation in late 2015 offering two different experiences – a New York pizzeria theme on one side, and chic modern décor on the other side with a full bar at the restaurant’s coreGuests can enjoy their dinners in big red booths, with the bars flat screens TV’s showing reality TV. There is an open kitchen and skyline photos of NY and LA. You are right in the groove with the Frank Sinatra station being played, as well as all of with the rat pack photos.
Villagio also features a party room that seats 36, and offers catering services. No event is too big or too small; from rotary club meeting, prom parties, women’s groups, graduation, to birthday parties.
The restaurant is open daily at 11:00 a.m. for lunch and dinner, with Happy Hour from 4:00-6:00 p.m. daily except Wednesdays which feature All Night Happy Hour.
Here is what I tried:
Dirty Martini, vodka, olive brine, dry vermouth, and blue cheese olives. Now this, my friend is the way a martini is supposed to taste, just fantastic.
Pomegranate Martini, with pear vodka, pama liqueur, and cranberry juice. This is a very sweet and smooth martini, it went down very well.
Garlic Shrimp and Spicy Sausage, with grilled ciabatta, scampi sauce, and fresh herbs. I was told that this is a go to Happy Hour dish, but I loved it just the same.
Calamari Fritti, with crispy calamari, lemon, Pomodoro, spicy aioli. lightly breaded, and a very good start to a wonderful meal.
Caesar Salad with smoked bacon, crisp romaine, Caesar dressing, and Parmesan crisps. I just loved the bacon in this salad.
Turkey Smoked bacon, with marinated tomato, pesto aioli, and Villagio bread. You could really do this as a main course, it is very hearty.
Meat Lasagna, house made traditional lasagna, all natural ground beef, mozzarella, rich Bolognese. Served casserole style, it has all of the rich Italian sauce that you would think of in lasagna.
Spaghetti Carbonara, with smoked bacon, onions, parmesan, sunny-side egg. This is done in the traditional manner, with nice Al Dente pasta.
Linguini and Clams, with linguini pasta, fresh clams, garlic, fresh parsley, and white wine sauce. One of my favorite dishes here at Villagio’s.
Chicken Marsala, with chicken breast, mushrooms and Marsala sauce, served with mashed red potatoes. Super creamy with big bold Marsala flavors.
Chicken Piccata, sautéed chicken breast, caper garlic and butter sauce, served with spaghetti Pomodoro. This is a nice version of this well-known dish.
Salmon Ripieno, roasted salmon stuffed with red and yellow peppers, garlic and spinach. Served with rosemary potatoes, finished with basil roasted peppers and white wine sauce. If you’re a salmon lover like I am then honestly I would skip this dish, there are better things to have.
Villagio Burrata with fresh Burrata, tomato sauce, basil, and olive oil. Their pizzas are the stars of the show, each one pulled out with the cheese sizzling from their pizza oven. Loved that the burrata was cooked but still had its overall integrity.
Quattro Formaggio with mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, gorgonzola, arugula. This pizza has a good balance between the cheese and the spicy arugula.
Broccolini, this has nice garlic infused flavor and is still crispy.
Mashed Potatoes, mother’s milk, and comfort food at its best.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts, super delicious and crispy.
Lemoncello Cake with ladyfingers layered with tangy lemon mascarpone mousse, dusted with powdered sugar and a strawberry. Topped with a shot of lemoncello liqueur. You can taste the bitterness of the Lemoncello, but that is what makes this cake so great.
Chardonnay, Franciscan Estate, Napa Valley, CA. The perfect wine for the clams with all of its vanilla, buttery nuances.
Chardonnay, Francis Coppola, Napa Valley, CA. For me this was a great pair with the shrimp, sausage dish, and the sausages were a bit spicy so this pairing balanced out the acid.
Zinfandel, Ravenswood, Mendocino County, CA. I would pair this wine with any thing that has a red sauce; it is very fruity but a really great Zin.
Cabernet, Liberty School, Paso Robles, CA. This wine works great with the chicken piccata or the lasagna.
I met then manager Paul Vega at The Italian Festival last November and he invited me in for a tasting. When I called and got the new manager Charles Thomas he said that Paul no longer works here but he is his best friend so whatever Paul was going to do for you I can accommodate you as well. Charles worked at CPK before this job. He was very gracious and made me feel like a queen, offering me up anything that I wanted. My server Cassandra has worked at Villagio since Nov. 2016, before that she worked at Red Lobster, she had a great shining personality.
“We know how hungry tourists can get spending the day at the pool, so we thought this would be a real win-win – especially for our neighboring hotels that don’t have their own dining services on property,” said Steven Gilfenbain, owner of Villagio Italian Kitchen. “We believe we’re the only restaurant offering delivery service via bicycle in the Coachella Valley, so it’s a unique way for us to boost our business, environmentally-friendly way to serve visitors as well.” Poolside delivery on the Villagio Italian Kitchen delivery bicycle is a pilot program, and the restaurant hopes to be able to expand it to other hotels and businesses in the corridor of Cook Street between Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford. Because the Palm Desert campuses of UC Riverside and Cal State San Bernardino are also located near the restaurant, Gilfenbain sees opportunity for expanded bike delivery to college students, as well. “It’s great to have the Palm Desert Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites on board for this venture,” “And they’re excited. They see the value in what we bring to their guest experience, while continuing to support our restaurant. We get a number of orders from hotel employees, as well.”
There are so many unique eating establishments in The Coachella Valley. Don’t let this strip mall façade fool you, Villagio Pizzeria is a keeper. From it delicious fresh foods to the staffs amazing hospitality, you will enjoy every minute of your dining experience. Villagio won Best of the Best Pizza and Italian food 2017 in Palm Springs Life Magazine.
Their saying, “Born in Italy, Raised in America”.
Pizzeria Villagio Italian Kitchen
37029 Cook St.
Palm Desert, CA 92211
* Note some content was taken off of their website