Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Vino Italian Bistro Story


Kempsville area bistro reopens, offering delicious Mediterranean-inspired cuisine

by Candance Moore

Chef Joshua Christy

Chef Joshua Christy

A trip to a neighborhood bistro this coming holiday season offers so much more than a hearty meal; it offers a taste of normalcy at the close of a year that has been far from normal. Since it reopened in June, Vino Italian Bistro in the Kempsville district of Virginia Beach has been delighting patrons by offering high-quality service and excellent food in a safe, relaxing environment.

"Many ‘new faces' have quickly become familiar faces," Chef Joshua Christy remarks. "Patrons are depending on us to give them a great culinary experience, and we never let them down. We are so happy to see our dining rooms bustling with life again."

As its name suggests, Vino Italian Bistro specializes in fresh Mediterranean cuisine prepared by talented chefs and bakers. Breads, pizza crusts, and pastas are made from scratch in the kitchen daily. Locally-sourced produce adds a richness to sauces and sautés, nicely complimenting an oh-so-tender veal cut or perhaps a generous serving of clams.

The impressive menu is the work of Chef Joshua, who lived in Italy with his Navy family as a youngster. His mother encouraged him to find a career he would love while doing something others would always appreciate. He started helping in kitchens as soon as he was old enough to work, eventually earning a culinary degree as he sharpened his skills. After three decades, he's built up a wealth of knowledge in the restaurant world.

His intimate knowledge of Mediterranean cuisine now shines through in his dishes at Vino. Seasonings, sauces, textures, and aromas are all authentically Italian.

Of course, no Mediterranean meal would be complete without a glass of wine, and here Vino does not disappoint. An entire wall in the back is dedicated to the massive wine catalog. Reds, whites, roses, champagnes, and everything in between are available daily, allowing for pitch-perfect pairing with a dish. No need to fret if the task seems daunting-the highly experienced staff can recommend options that best please the palate.

Restaurateur Dustin Hughes, the owner of the Great Bridge landmark Lockside Bar and Grill, also owns Vino. He led a movement to reshape Chesapeake cuisine in 2013. When Lockside proved itself a winner, Dustin chose to expand his investments, but he wanted to offer diverse cuisines to his guests. He partnered with Bob Hughes to open the first Vino location in Chesapeake a few years later. Chef Joshua joined the team. Together they crafted the menu, daily specials, and service expectations that quickly made Vino a neighborhood favorite.

Positive reviews flooded social media to rave about the food and the warm, welcoming atmosphere. It didn't take long for Vino to find itself packed most evenings. Dustin and Bob were ecstatic. Preferring to speak through his food, Chef Joshua remained in his kitchen, quietly working to maintain the high quality his patrons had come to expect.

Vino's vision is to be a casual bistro with deliciously outstanding food. There's a touch of upscale class that makes it perfect for an anniversary date, yet a laid-back atmosphere that makes everyone feel welcome. Fresh-made pizzas, tantalizing appetizers, specialty entrees, and hit-the-spot desserts are the ingredients of an outstanding dining experience that's perfect for any occasion. The servers are knowledgeable about pairing together a well-chosen meal.

To help diners get the most from the menu, Vino has options to get a three-course meal for $20. This allows adventurous eaters to try appetizers and desserts they may not have considered in the past. Familiar favorites such as salads and tiramisu are also on hand. For a great lunch, Vino in Virginia Beach opens early. Menu options under ten dollars make it the perfect workaday escape.

 "Patrons are depending on us
to give them a great culinary experience,
and we never let them down.
We are so happy
to see our dining rooms
bustling with life again."
- Chef Joshua Christy

Vino is a warm, welcoming neighborhood bistro

Vino is a warm, welcoming neighborhood bistro

When the Great Bridge location of Vino was a success, Dustin wanted to bring his vision to Virginia Beach. After a lengthy search, he acquired a location in the Fairfield Shopping Center. The interior was completely transformed into a modern casual Italian bistro. The same menu which had delighted Great Bridge patrons for years was brought to Virginia Beach. Kempsville area residents, who had previously been making the drive to Chesapeake, eagerly watched the renovation. At last, Vino in Virginia Beach opened to much fanfare early in 2020. three weeks before the pandemic closures. Chef Joshua vividly recalls the fear and disappointment when he saw the doors close on all their hard work.

Dustin, a family-oriented local businessman, vowed to keep his team together. They made arrangements to keep the location during an agonizing spring of no revenue. Painstakingly following mandated health restrictions, they began offering outdoor seating in the summer as hesitant patrons ventured out. The sidewalk tables didn't fit the style that Dustin envisioned for Vino. Like most other small business owners, he held his breath for months to see if the bistro would be able to bounce back.

Finally, indoor dining was allowed, and Dustin knew Vino had survived the worst. After reconfiguring the dining rooms to comply with the new health guidelines, Joshua and his crew were excited to see the bistro once again seated to capacity. Although the new normal involves fewer tables, the benefits include a quieter dining atmosphere and a greater sense of privacy for guests.

The restaurant practices rigorous methods to ensure a clean environment for guests and employees. Masks are necessary upon entry to the building, but once guests are settled at a table, the dining experience quickly returns to normal.

While some surviving businesses have, unfortunately, been forced to cut corners, Vino remains committed to its high values. They still use the freshest produce from local farms, still simmer their own marinara in-house, and still crank out some of the freshest pasta available in Hampton Roads.

"We're still making fresh cuisine according to the highest standards of excellence, and our incredible staff is committed to exceptional hospitality," Chef Joshua declares. "Those who remember us from before the shutdown will find that we are still offering the same great dining experience. To those who haven't yet given experienced all that we have to offer, now's the perfect time to discover us."

Vino Italian Bistro

138 S. Battlefield Blvd.
Chesapeake, VA 23322