Chef Riccardo Stocco and his family celebrate 20 years of traditional and innovative multi-regional Italian cuisine on the Winchester Walking Mall.
“When you come to Violino’s, expect authentic Italian cuisine made with with the freshest ingredients from recipes that stretch generations back.”
Hailing from the overseas jewel of Sorano, Italy, Franco Stocco, and his family came to the Shenandoah Valley with the hope of creating their American Dream. After renovating an old greek restaurant near the corner of the Old Town Winchester Walking Mall, the Stoccos created what is now a thriving, authentic Italian restaurant, Violino’s. Chef Franco and his son Riccardo create innovative and traditional italian masterpieces for all foodie lovers of the Shenandoah Valley.
As father and son chefs, does your father specialize in some courses and you specialize in others or are you both capable of making the same orders?
“My dad has a lot of time, with the commute to and from Warrenton to prepare recipes and dishes in his head and we go over them as a family and see if they’ll work and usually, those are the specials for the evening. We utilize each of our talents and work together in the kitchen. He obviously has more experience being in the culinary business for so long, but I’ve brought my own talents and cooking style to Violino’s as well.”
Does your father have an influence on you in the kitchen?
“Of course. He really influenced me with my culinary techniques and his genuine love and passion for cooking. It’s funny because he was reluctant for me to go to a culinary school because he didn’t want me to do something I didn’t want to but once he realized that I had a love for cooking too, he was really happy and accepted it. So yes he influences me in the kitchen but also in everyday life, as a good father, good role model, and now good grandfather.”
How do you differ yourselves from the other restaurants on the walking mall?
“We like to consider our family restaurant the only true italian restaurant the Old Walking Mall has to offer. We utilize the freshest ingredients that are delivered daily. We’re one of the more fine dining restaurants on the mall with an incredible staff that we treat as family. An interesting thing about Violino’s is that we don’t only use recipes from one area of Italy, we utilize traditional italian cuisine from all regions of the Italy, although the more northern recipes are well liked by our guests.”
I understand Violinos is a family business, does each family member do a specific job or does everyone help out?
“Violino’s is very much a family business. From some the staff that have been with us for 20 years to the family ourselves, the restaurant relies on that family bond and connection to keep things running smoothly. My father and I work mostly in the kitchen while my mother, Marcella, and sister, Rafaella, work in the dining area. As a family, we all come together to make big decisions regarding the restaurant, to keep stress levels down, and for better communication. We definitely work off each other and we all chip in a do what needs to be done to give our guests an atmosphere and dish they won’t soon forget.”
What is your favorite dish on Violinos menu?
“That’s so hard, but if i had to pick, it would most likely be the made from scratch mozzarella as an appetizer. Not only is it my personal favorite, it’s very popular with our guests. For a entree, I would say the homemade pasta or vealo sevucco.”
If you could pair your personal favorite italian wine with a dinner course, what would it be?
“I would pair an entree we offer called Ossobuco with a nice Barolo. It’s a very fruit forward dry red. It’s a solid, delicious wine from piedmont region. Here at Violino’s we try to stick with region dish comes from.”
Any advice to your guests or newcomers?
“ Don’t be afraid of the foreign language on our menus. We are a traditional, fine dining, Italian restaurant. Our staff are more than happy to explain what each dish is and the ingredients inside. We also offer gluten free options upon request. We would really love for guests to get out of their comfort zone and try something new each time they come so they can see how each dish is different on the palate. We encourage the younger generations to order outside their comfort zone as well because so few millennials have tried authentic italian food.”
What is the most essential item in your kitchen?
“Knives and tongs and kitchen towel. I feel like that’s what every chef says but they truly are essential in a kitchen, especially an Italian kitchen.”
What is your favorite gadget to use in the kitchen?
“The gelato machine is pretty cool. We make our own artisan gelato here for dessert but the machine is nice because it enhances and mixes just the right amount to make our gelato spectacular. My kids even help me make it sometimes when we’re at home and we take it to the farmers market on Amherst street on Saturdays. So if you see some kids selling gelato, they’re probably mine. My personal favorite flavor is the pistachio.”