Family run restaurant specializing in both Southern and Northern Italian cuisine and serving Williamsburg since 1974.
I don’t think you can possibly live in Williamsburg and not know about Sal’s by Victor. This is definitely a local’s favorite and has been voted best Italian restaurant by the VA Gazette every year since 1996. Because of this, we’ve already visited Sal’s by Victor a number of times. We were more than happy though to visit them once again for the review because it was such a favorite of ours. Since the remodel a couple years back, we hadn’t even seen the left side of the restaurant yet and had only sat on the right side of the restaurant. The right side has more of a “cafe” feel and is perfect for eating a pizza or sitting with friends. This time we were able to sit in the middle of the section to the left. It has a very “Italian” feel with arches, lovely Italian paintings filling the walls and Italian music playing in the background. Even the ceilings give it an authentic Italian feel with beautiful chandeliers and hanging lights. No matter what side you sit on though, you will be eating great food.
Since literally everything on the menu looked good to us, the chef chose what he thought were the best dishes for us to try. We started off with Insalata Di Mare. It is a refreshing seafood salad with a lemon sauce. When the plate was first brought out, I expected the calamari to be tough, but it was tender and soft. The various types of fish almost melted in my mouth. I really enjoyed this dish. Next up was the Involtini di Melanzane, which was an eggplant stuffed with Mozzarella, Ricotta and Grana Padana. This is a step up from the traditional eggplant parmesan I am used to. The manager told us that the Grana Padana had been imported from Italy, along with various other ingredients on their menu to ensure quality and authentic Italian flavors. The main dishes we tasted were the Cavatoni Alla Capri and the Veal Saltimbocca. The pasta in the Cavatoni Alla Capri was delicious and unique. I loved the taste of the tomatoes, garlic and olive oil that was mixed in with the shrimp. The Veal Saltimbocca was also very flavorful. It was veal topped with a slice of Prosciutto di Parma and a slice of mozzarella cheese. I love how some of the traditional dishes are given a twist at Sal’s by Victor. The sauce that was drizzled over the dish was so flavorful that I told Eddie I could eat a soup of just that sauce! One of the things we noticed was that Victor offers a variety of different sauces for his dishes. He does not take the easy way out by only making one red sauce and one cream sauce. You’ll notice sauces like vodka sauce, Victor’s meat sauce, lobster cream sauce, and white wine butter sauce, just to name a few. So, you’ll get a unique combination of flavors in your sauce, depending on what dish you choose. We ended our meal with two desserts. The first one was their house-made Cannoli. You get little bursts of chocolate in the filling because of the mini chocolate chips mixed in with the creamy center. The crust of the Cannoli was very crunchy and sweet and reminded me of a waffle ice cream cone. We also tasted their Imported Orange Sorbet. This was soft, creamy, and had a nice strong orange flavor served in a frozen orange shell. Our entire visit was enjoyable, from the atmosphere to the food. You can bet we will be here again.
My Favorite Thing: Cavatoni Alla Capri – “Victor’s special pasta served with jumbo shrimp, sauteed with extra virgin olive oil, garlic & fresh tomatoes.” The sauce tasted so fresh with the tomatoes, and the flavors in it were not your typical red sauce. It had its own flair and that’s what I really liked about it. I was savoring each bite.
What I would like to try next time: Lobster Ravioli – “Ravioli stuffed with lobster & crab meat, in a lobster cream sauce”. This item caught my eye when we first sat down and looked at the menu. Though there were lots of other dishes that looked appetizing, I think this is one I would want to try the most.
Every town needs a good Italian restaurant. And we here in Williamsburg have a GREAT one. In 1974, Sal’s by Victor opened in Williamsburg under the name “Sal’s”, named after the original owner “Salvatore”. In 1990, Chef Vittorio Minichiello (Victor) purchased the restaurant from Sal and chose to keep the name, but added “by Victor” to the title. The rest, as they say, is history. As Mindy noted above, Sal’s by Victor has been voted Virginia Gazette’s “Best in Williamsburg” for the Italian Restaurant category every year since 1996. They’ve become a staple here in Williamsburg and is widely known as one of the best restaurants in town.
One of the main reasons for their success is Chef Victor’s incredible attention to detail and extreme pickiness in making sure they use only top quality ingredients. Most of them directly imported from Italy. This not only includes the ingredients in their food, but also the products that they offer, such as their fine selection of wine and coffee from Italy. The decor also reflects this as the restaurant is filled with beautiful artwork from Italian artists mostly depicting the beautiful countryside of Italy. These were added to the restaurant as it was completely remodeled following a fire in 2009. It was great to see the community rally around Victor, his family and the restaurant during this time and celebrate with them during their opening of the newly remodeled Sal’s by Victor. Talk about turning a tragedy into a blessing. It has been remodeled beautifully inside with a classic Italian feel. Large paintings, standing columns, arches and Italian music in the background help set the mood for a wonderful meal.
We started off our meal with a couple of appetizers. The first was the Insalata di Mare – “Mixed Seafood Salad with Lemon Sauce”. This was incredibly fresh and delicious. A nice cool Seafood Salad with large portions of seafood inside. The lemon sauce is very subtle and not too overpowering. This is a great “light” way to start a meal. Our second appetizer was the Involtini di Melanzane – “Eggplant stuffed with Mozzarella, Ricotta and Grana Padana cheeses”. The cheeses were wrapped by thin strips of eggplant as opposed to most eggplant dishes where the eggplant is in the center. If you don’t like eggplant, try this one. It’s flavor is subtle here as the cheese is the highlighted ingredient. I loved it. On to the entrées. Our first entrée was the Cavatoni Alla Capri – “Victor’s Special Pasta served with Jumbo Shrimp, sauteed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic & Fresh Tomatoes”. This was awesome! The jumbo shrimp and surrounding flavors were very tasty. For me though, the highlight of the dish was the pasta. It was thick and chewy. Almost doughy. Not the typical pasta your used to. I just kept wanting to eat it. Then came the Veal Saltimbocca – “Tender Veal topped with a slice of Prosciutto di Parma and a slice of Mozzarella Cheese. Served with a side of the Vegetables of the Day”. Amazing. The flavors here are SO good. The veal, prosciutto and mozzarella combined with that delicious sauce are making my mouth water right now. And I have no more Veal Saltimbocca in front of me to quench that desire. Agonizing. For dessert we had their homemade Cannoli and then an Imported Orange Sorbet. The Cannoli was very good. Large and beautifully made. The Imported Orange Sorbet was fantastic. The REAL orange flavor coming from a REAL orange is nice to experience. It was delightfully presented inside of a frozen orange and held in a sleek glass container that seemed to be made specifically for this dessert. And thus ended another great meal. The only disappointment was not adding their pizza to the review. It’s one of the best in Williamsburg.
What I would like to try next time: Smoked Chicken Ravioli – “Fresh Ravioli filled with tender Smoked Chicken. Served with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Asparagus & Basil in a rich Cream Sauce”. There’s a zillion dishes to choose from off their menu, but this one is the one that sticks out to me the most.