Behind the Bar: Chocolate martini from Vinny’s in Frisco (video, recipe) | SummitDaily.com

Behind the Bar: Chocolate martini from Vinny’s in Frisco (video, recipe)

Tucked into the corner of a courtyard on Main Street in Frisco, Vinny's Euro-American Cuisine is a gratifying find amongst Summit County eateries. Opened by Vinny Monarca almost eight years ago, the fine-dining restaurant focuses on high-quality dishes made with organic and locally sourced products. With a few staples on the menu, seasonal ingredients are also weaved together in creative ways, so specials on the menu are changing constantly.

THE CHEF

Monarca went to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, after growing up in Connecticut. The chef moved to Summit County in 1992 to work as sous chef at the Ski Tip Lodge but also worked at several other Keystone outlets throughout the years. He was part of the crew that opened up Taddeo's Breckenridge Italian Restaurant and Paisanos Italian Restaurant in Keystone. He also spent some time in the mid-'90s at Blue Spruce in Frisco and was called the "tofu master" at Alpine Market, a now-defunct restaurant that was on the west side of Main Street in Frisco.

He now operates Vinny's with his wife, Sarah, who also has an extensive background in the food industry. The couple met the year Vinny was opening the restaurant: "I met a guy who had a whole lot of time on his hands, and then had none," she laughs as she reminisces on the story of how they met.

Sarah's food journey began with learning how to cook vegan dishes for herself, eventually trying to make a career out of it. It landed her at Alpine Market. The manager introduced the two, as she had actually taken over what was once Vinny's job in the deli department.

THE RESTAURANT

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"Microwave" is a dirty word around these parts, and Vinny's commitment to quality food is evident in his menu and his attitude in the kitchen. Everything on the menu except the bread and select pastas is made in-house. The restaurant is focused on ethical social and business practice choices, including composting everything possible, using recycled materials for to-go containers and even using water-saving plumbing in the restrooms.

Vinny's delectable creations and sustainable business practices are reasons why the restaurant recommends reservations on any night of the week, not to mention a happy hour menu that features $5 taster items big enough to share, plus $1 off wines by the glass, $2.50 wells, $1 off all beers and $4 Grand Marnier, Jameson and Tuaca.

THE COCKTAIL

Bartender Kara Napolitnao grew up about 5 miles away from Vinny's home town in Connecticut, although the pair never met until they both lived in Summit County. Napolitnao has worked off and on at the restaurant for the last six years, leaving intermittently to travel. She offers up this sweet concoction for an after-dinner treat. The bartender recommends using only high-quality chocolate to line the martini glass, such as Ghirardelli, as it sticks to the glass better.

Chocolate martini

½ oz Stoli Vanilla

1 ½ oz Stoli Chocolate Coconut vodka

½ oz crème de cacao

¼ oz Carolyn's Irish Crème

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake well. Pour over chilled martini glass garnished with Giradelli's chocolate syrup swirl.

IF YOU GO

What: Vinny’s Euro-American Cuisine

Where: 310 Main Street, Frisco

Contact: Call 970-668-0340 for a reservation or more information

Happy Hour

$5 Taster Menu

$6/glass select “Happy” wines

$2.50 Wells

$1 off all Beers

$4 Grand Marnier, Jameson & Tuaca