By Ava Stryker-Robbins
Few restaurants on the Upper West Side have lasted as long as V&T; this neighborhood institution first opened on 122nd Street in 1945 and has remained in its current location on Amsterdam between 110th Street and 111th Street for over 70 years since 1951.
Originally started by two brothers who were World War II veterans—Vincent and Tony Curcurato—V&T is an Italian restaurant serving pizza, pasta, and more. According to V&T’s website, prior to the war Vincent and Tony worked at an Italian bakery in East Harlem where they learned how to create thin-crust pizza.
Though the restaurant changed ownership from the Curcurato brothers to Alex Gjolaj and then to his son Anthony Gjolaj, the menu has remained largely the same. According to a WSR phone interview with Gjolaj who currently serves as day-time manager, the chicken piccata is a long-lasting dish and is one of the restaurant’s most popular items.
The tender chicken pieces are sautéed to perfection, but its sauce is what truly elevates the dish and makes the chicken shine. It is tangy and buttery with hints of white wine, and is speckled with capers, which give it a slightly bright and sour flavor. The dish is creamy and inviting, and the chicken is delicious. It comes with a bowl of pasta or salad on the side.
Gjolaj mentions that part of what makes the dish special is the chef, who has been making this recipe—which is a family recipe—for about 25 years.
The environment of V&T is very special—the checkered tables and upbeat ambiance take customers back in time. The restaurant is notoriously kid-friendly and is, according to V&T’s website, “a haven for Columbia students and Morningside Heights Residents.” Gjolaj mentions that more than half of V&T’s business comes from Columbia students, “V&T and Columbia go hand in hand,” he says.
Gjolaj also states that there is nothing comparable to being a small business owner. Both frequent customers, tourists, and new customers shape the environment of the restaurant and make it a different experience every day.
Gjolaj states that V&T is hoping to remain mostly unchanged in the future. “You want to keep the core set back in time,” he says.
The chicken piccata costs $22.
The Dish: Chicken Piccata
The Restaurant: V&T (1024 Amsterdam Avenue between 110th and 111th Streets)
Read all our Here’s the Dish columns here.