Villa Tronco - 1213 Blanding Street

Posted by The LunchMen Thursday, October 1, 2009

Few things are more rewarding at lunch than finding something great that you were not expecting at all. I was fortunate to have such an experience today at Villa Tronco.

Today Tex, the Publican, and I headed over to the Villa on foot so that we could enjoy the fine early fall weather gracing Columbia this week. I've dined at the Villa for dinner, and Mrs. Tank and I were underwhelmed. The restaurant is decked out like a mob flick shot in the Godfather era (I love old mob movies) complete with floor to ceiling wood paneling, images of elderly Italians on the wall, and a thick smell of garlic and history clinging to everything. Some may consider the feel of the Villa home-like and relaxing, but it hasn't quite worked for me in the past.

However, today's lunch was an unqualified success. The room of the restaurant where we dined has a sun light that brightened the atmosphere significantly. For the meal, the Villa started us off with some fresh, warm bread and butter. It was a good call on their part, as the food was a tad slow making it to the table. The delay could have been because Tex ordered a combo platter with lasagna, cheese ravioli, and fettuccine alla Tronco, along with a side salad. Bold for a man staring down the barrel of a long afternoon of work. He was happily sloshing pasta sauce all over me while he scarfed down these tasty traditional Italian offerings. The Publican went a little out of the box with a healthy crab cake spinach salad with tomatoes, mushrooms, and red onions. The Publican gave his salad high marks as well.

This guy, however, went way off the reservation and ordered a burger at an Italian restaurant. For a side, I had crunchy bagel chips with a sun-dried tomato cream cheese. Nice change of pace from the pasta salads I've eaten with reckless abandon all summer. The burger was cooked perfectly medium well. Inside the juicy patty was spinach and pecorino romano cheese - delicious. The burger was topped with a nice fontina cheese, red onion, fresh greens, and tomato slices. It was a perfect burger! I told Kali afterward that we made an error in not including Villa Tronco in the Best Burger of Columbia poll, because mine today was right up at the top.

I would have never expected to find such a great burger at the Villa. For those who can't decide what they want for lunch, the Villa's menu offers many other options, including paninis, pizzas, soups, salads, and all of the traditional Italian meals you may crave. The rates are a little high - you are not going to get out of there without spending over $10 - but the food was a nice change of pace for us. The Villa should be considered a go-to spot Uptown for those looking for something different or a great spot for a business lunch.

- Tank

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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.