There is a very small strip mall at the end of Baymeadows Road in Jacksonville (on the Mandarin side) that happens to hold three of what may be the best restaurants in Jacksonville. One is the Rib Shack, the second is Mediterrania, and the third is Vito's Italian Restaurant. Vito's is a great Italian spot with two very important things: good wine and great Marinara Sauce.
Vito's Italian Restaurant specializes in Central and Southern Italian cuisine, serving delicious examples of the classics like Lasagna, Chicken and Eggplant Parmigiano, and Baked Ravioli. Something key in Italian cooking is the quality of the ingredients, and Vito's takes great pride in serving the best and most flavorful products available. You can taste the quality of each individual ingredient that goes into their dishes. This same pride and quality is also evident in the choices that appear on the wine list. Vito's boasts an extensive wine list, representing many of the wine making regions of Italy. My personal favorite: Pinot Grigio. It is a nice dry white that can be paired up with the majority of items on Vito's menu.
As I said, the Marinara sauce at Vito's is delicious. It is not overpowered with spices or garlic, and it lets the bright taste of the tomatoes come through. It has just the right sweetness, and with some nice shredded Parmesan cheese on top, you have perfection. Bowls of spaghetti with Marinara accompany most of the dinners at Vito's, so you'll get this treat with almost every dinner. I wish my marinara tasted this good, and my last name ends in a vowel!
Two more suggestions you might try are the Chicken or Veal Teresa ($17 or $20) and the Clams in Scampi Sauce ($19). The Teresa incorporates artichoke hearts, Chicken or Veal, and a lemon wine sauce. This is simmered, and placed on bed of spinach. The Clams in Scampi Sauce are just that. It is a delicious version of Linguine and Clams, but you can choose whatever pasta may strike your fancy that evening and has a great garlic butter flavor. All dinners come with salad and garlic bread as well, so you will be pleasantly stuffed walking out.
Vito's has been locally owned and operated since the early 1980's and their popularity is evident throughout the week, except on Mondays when they are closed. Basically, expect a bit of a wait on the weekends. Give yourself a treat and take a night to relax with some great food and wine, you'll be glad you did! Vito's Italian Restaurant is located at:
3825 Baymeadows Road
Jacksonville, FL 32217