A long-standing Jersey Shore favorite, this Bradley Beach landmark has been serving thin crust pizza and authentic Italian dishes since 1947.
Vittorio “Vic” Giunco opened a small bar named Vic’s Tap Room on Main Street in Bradley Beach shortly after the repeal of prohibition in 1933.
With business booming and the opportunity to purchase a larger piece of property on the south end of Bradley Beach arose around 1940, Giunco did just that. Thus, the bar moved down the street to its present location and has remained there ever since.
Giunco’s son, John, saw great potential in the bar and came up with the idea to add on to the building and establish an Italian restaurant. On March 17, 1947, Vic’s Bar & Restaurant was born and its doors opened to the public.
Many of Vic’s customers today have been eating at the establishment since it opened and are now joined by their children, grandchildren and even great- grandchildren in some cases.
According to manager Travis Semblewski, he commonly has a customer tell him they were there the day Vic’s opened.
“I actually had this happen two summers ago,” said Semblewski. He said, ‘I’m 95 today. We’re here for my birthday and I just want to let you know I was here on the day you opened in 1947.’”
While Vic’s is certainly known for its thin-crust tomato pies, the menu offers traditional Italian fare that’s also popular among customers.
“I’d say 40 percent of our business is pizza,” said Semblewski. “The other 60 percent is all the other kitchen stuff we do.”
According to Semblewski, everything the kitchen prepares for the dinners is made in-house.
“So we make our own ravioli, we make our own sausage, we make our own meatballs,” said Semblewski. “Of course, the sauces and the doughs we make everyday as well, it’s all fresh.
“We have the same recipes for 70 years. In fact in the back we still have the original recipe cards that everything is handwritten on, so my wife’s grandfather’s handwriting, and we still follow those recipes.”
Semblewski pointed out that even the ingredients that are bought to go into the dishes, such as the tomatoes or the seasonings, are purchased from the same vendors, same product, in an effort not to change a thing.
Start out your meal with an appetizer like the Fried Calamari, Mussels Marinara or the infamous Chopped Antipasto. Soups include Escarole and Bean, Pasta Fagioli, Manhattan Clam Chowder and Minestrone.
The menu offers spaghetti specialties with a choice of 10 varieties and there are even more selections, including linguine, penne and shells.
Italian specialties include handmade dishes, according to Semblewski, such as Manicotti and Ravioli along with Lasagna, Eggplant Parmigiana and much more.
The pizza pies are not to be missed and guests can choose from a variety of options already on the menu or start from scratch and create their own version of the perfect pizza.
Pizzas are offered in three different sizes: large [14”], small [12”] or mini [10”].
“I mean, a plain pizza obviously, and our special, which is sausage and peppers, are probably the two biggest items that we sell,” explained Semblewski. After that there’s just all kinds of other [toppings] you can get that it gets pretty complex.
“I’ve seen people build $20 pizzas by throwing all different kinds of toppings on.” Whether you have a food allergy, follow a gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan diet, the staff is quick to attend to your specific dietary needs and steer you in the right direction when it comes to ordering. Gluten- free or dairy-free pies are often made and while the restaurant doesn’t make its own gluten-free dough top avoid cross-contamination, the pizza is still made with Vic’s homemade sauce and cheese.
GENERATION AFTER GENERATION
Family is at the forefront at Vic’s with the restaurant, since its doors opened, being run by generation after generation of family members, the family feel extends to the other employees as well as the customers.
“… It’s just they’re [staff] really a part of our family, they’re like extended family,” said Tremblewski. “And we have about 20 full-time people, a lot who fit into that category of 10-plus, 20- plus, 30-plus years.”
“And people become very comfortable here because we treat everyone well, they don’t want to leave,” he added with a laugh.
View the entire January 11 edition of Night & Day Magazine online here.