I’ve loved living in the Midwest because I can get to so many different states within a few hours. One of the (very) few things I don’t love about Champaign, though, is the lack of good Italian food.
Coming from Long Island, you could find a pizzeria with great Italian on every corner. I have yet to find one place within two hours of Champaign that I can compare to those.
On a recent trip to Dubuque, Iowa, I was happy to discover a new city and a restaurant that makes pasta like my aunts used to.
I felt comfortable as soon as I walked into Vinny Vanucchi’s in downtown Dubuque. The checkered tablecloths and family photos were very welcoming and I knew instantly it was a great family place.
That was what I was looking for as I had brought along my friend Amy, her two kids, and a third child.
Amy was driving, but I tried one of their martinis from the cocktail menu. The Chuck Berry was simple and perfect, with vodka and raspberry liqueur.
We got a pizza for an appetizer. It was quite good and we probably could have finished it if we hadn’t ordered entrees too. It was packed up to take back to the hotel for the next time the kids – and adults – got hungry.
Vinny Vanucchi's also served a family style salad with Italian dressing, of course. It was served with a garlicky bread.
I had Uncle Paulie’s Baked Mostaccioli. It is made with baked penne, tomato sauce, and three different cheese. I always find it funny that they don’t have Baked
Ziti in the Midwest because there’s no ziti in the macaroni aisle! Baked pasta is made with rigatoni or penne. One of these days I’m going to find out what the Midwest has against ziti!
Amy got Fettuccine Seafood. It is fettucine with scallops, shrimp, and crabmeat in a cream sauce. She said it was fantastic.
The kids shared the ravioli with Alfredo sauce and kept enjoying the pizza, although it seemed like we didn’t make a dent in it.
It was ice cream for dessert for the kids while the adults shared a chocolate cake.
We went straight to the Grand Harbor Resort and checked in quickly. The standard room was a nice size, and also had a small refrigerator.
It was just minutes later that the kids begged us to take them to the waterpark and we were curious to check it out too, so we headed downstairs.
I don’t know that the Grand Harbor indoor waterpark would have been enough for teenagers, but it was more than enough for the kids we had with us, who were six and three. They loved the slides, lazy river and the kiddie play area.
I don’t think we would have gotten them out of there if the park hadn’t been ready to close for the night, though I have to admit we were having a lot of fun too.
Everyone was more than ready for bed by the time we got back to our room at the Grand Harbor Resort. We needed to rest up for a full next day in Dubuque.