Warm and happy greetings readers! The Beach Whisper has a self-diagnosed case of “spring fever”! When the temps hit 70, and the sun is shining, I just want to get outside. If you’ve read any of the 3 previous blogs (and I hope you have) you know by now that I’m a “foodie”, so it is no wonder I could turn the spring fever/getting outside comment to food, but this week I just can’t contain my excitement any longer. I must share with you all the best kept secret for “wine’ing & dining” at The Wharf.
((Drum Roll)) I’d like to introduce my readers to Villagio Grille [4790 Main Street #108-B, OBA, AL].
Reasons to not miss Villagio Grille:
First, Villagio Grille accepts reservations. [phone number: 251-224-6510]
That is a huge “plus” when you arrive here on vacation, and the first night out, you arrive at any of the good restaurants by 6:30, to hear these adorable little perky sun-kissed hostesses quote you a two and a half hour wait time with a sparkling smile on their face. These wait quotes just roll off their sweet little tongues like ‘butta’.
Thankfully, the owners of Villagio came here many years ago from a large metropolitan city and they understand the value of reservations.
Second, Villagio Grille is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner [hours of operation 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.]
Third, Villagio Grille has one of the most progressive food menus in town. This place serves fresh seafood; they serve “flats” (wood fired pizzas in an oven that was built in Italy); they serve the freshest and most unique salads in town; they also have the most incredible grilled grouper with truffle mashed potatoes (and if you’ve never eaten truffle mashed pots, let me assure you, they will change your life). Villagio Grille is the only place in town to go, if you desire a culinary delight while on vacation, such as braised lamb, braised rabbit, or veal Marsala.
Fourth, white table cloths and one of the BEST wine lists in town. Having lived here for over 20 years, and knowing many “locals”, I often hear people rave about the wine list at Villagio Grille. I am not a wine enthusiast. I wish I knew more about wines. I generally play it safe and go for a Pinot Grigio or Moscato. In fact, I feel so inadequate to even speak about their wine list or their menu because these people are such culinary geniuses that I feel like I cannot write enough to do their fabulous food the justice it deserves.
Fifth, I personally love Villagio Grille because from “day 1”, the owners have been “hands on” and you see them both inside that restaurant, working their fannies off, and greeting patrons. They have had the same staff for years (meaning low “turnover” in staff= they treat their people well, and that is above ALL so very important to The Beach Whisper).
Not only do they treat their staff well, but they treat their customers well, too. My spouse and I had lunch yesterday at Villagio Grille, and we casually mentioned that we were celebrating something. The owner overheard us, and asked if he could offer us a glass of Champaign to celebrate. Two minutes later, he personally returned with two lovely glasses of bubbly. He has no idea that I am The Beach Whisper, nor does he know that I am writing a blog about his restaurant today. I say all of that to say that this is just the kindness he bestows to his patrons, and I think that is a very good way to do business in this small town. This business owner is one of the inspirations behind my conception of this blog.
I started this blog because I feel I have a destiny to fulfill. Too many business owners in this town are not getting the exposure or the credit they deserve for numerous reasons. Perhaps they are off the beaten path; perhaps they weren’t born with a silver spoon, and don’t have a trust fund of money to spend on advertising; perhaps vacationers continue to go to the same old places for fear that if they branch out of their comfort zone, they will regret it. My goal, as a seasoned 20+ year resident and patron of these businesses is to showcase the best of the best, and vividly describe certain menu items that are just too good to miss if you are in this neck of the woods.
Bonus: Villagio Grille serves the most delicious coffee to accompany their amazing desserts: creme brûlée, carrot cake, and a chocolate delight…just to name a few.
The Blue Angels. I go to see them every chance I get.
According to the Blue Angels website, their practice schedule kicks off March 17. The N.A.S. (Naval Air Station) Pensacola is a short 30 minute drive from most Alabama beaches. You will thank me if you’ve never seen them in person.
The Beach Whisper suggests making (at least) a half day outing for viewing the Blues. They fly early, so plan to arrive between 7:30 & 8:00 for up close viewing. Afterwards, spend a couple of hours visiting the museum. I want you to know that this museum is staffed by volunteers, and they operate the museum off donations, so if you can drop a few bills in the glass case inside the entrance, that would be very appreciated by the people who pour their lives into that place. If you’ve had entirely too much sun, there is an IMax theatre inside the museum, and the showtimes run around lunch and early afternoon.
If you want to incorporate some time outdoors, climb 177 steps up to the top of the Pensacola Lighthouse (located on the N.A.S. property). You will have a panoramic view of the Pensacola Pass (where Pensacola Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico), three forts, the Pensacola skyline, and the historic Navy Yard.
There is a small admissions fee for the lighthouse: adults $6, children 12 & under, seniors 65+, and active duty military $4
Open M-Sat. 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Sunday 12-5
There are so many sights and scenes to photograph inside this amazing beachside naval base, you may need to stop at Target and buy a fresh memory card before you head through the gate.
Speaking of Target, there aren’t any huge signs pointing you in the right direction, so remember to turn south onto “Blue Angel Parkway” where there are two huge landmarks: A Target on one corner and a Wal-Mart on the other.
Regarding a shopping experience in this blog, the gift shops of both the museum and the lighthouse are my chosen shopping destinations today. The Beach Whisper would encourage everyone to buy a little trinket, bumper sticker, or perhaps a t-shirt at the National Naval Air Station Museum or the Lighthouse Museum/gift shop to support and further their endeavors because after you see the inside of these two museums, I believe you will have the same admiration and appreciation as I, for the fact that they fed your patriotic soul, and didn’t charge you a dime to do it, and you will want to feel like making a nominal contribution.
Happy Spring Break 2015! This is my official 30th year of spending spring breaks at the beach only difference between then and now…I live here now and we have two Publix (my favorite grocery store).