For over 30 years, Vincenzo "Vinnie" Guercio has been providing traditional homemade Italian fare to the Williamsport community. Before opening Vinnie's Italian Eatery with his wife, Francesca, in 1987, Guercio was learning the skills to cook authentic Italian food. Guercio grew up in Sicily and worked in pizza shops from age 11. Early on, he learned the importance of quality ingredients and freshly-made dishes.
"A lot of our products are from Italy," said Guercio, citing the restaurant's lunch meats, pizza dough and tomatoes among other ingredients imported from his native country.
Rolls, dough and sauces are made from scratch at Vinnie's, where the most popular item among customers is the pizza. From New York style pizza to gourmet, Vinnie's offers a wide variety of meat and vegetable toppings. Customers also love Vinnie's wings, made with a sauce that can't be found anywhere else.
"We have our own recipe for the hot sauce," Guercio said. "Customers tell me I should bottle it and sell it."
In 2008, the Guercios opened Vincenzo's Italian Cuisine, at 99 Maynard St. The restaurant is run by Francesca and offers meat, seafood and pasta dishes.
"She's also been working in the kitchen since she was a little girl, back home," Guercio said of his wife.
Guercio said the best part of owning a restaurant is interacting with customers, especially those who eat at Vinnie's on a regular basis.
"I have loyal customers who have been coming here since 1987," he said. "I know them by their names. That makes me feel proud."
Many of the items at Vinnie's have not changed since the restaurant opened, but Guercio has made a few additions.
"We introduced our Italian roll four or five years ago. That was something that I used to do back in Italy," he said.
Guercio owned restaurants in New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Florida, but ultimately settled in Williamsport to raise his family after purchasing the Original Italian Pizza which became Vinnie's. As his two children have grown up in Williamsport, he's also watched the children of his customers grow up and have children of their own. Guercio has enjoyed sharing the classic foods he grew up eating with the community.
"I feel like I'm a milestone in Williamsport... It makes Vinnie's special," he said.
Vinnie's offers dine-in, pick-up and delivery options. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. The full menu is available at www.vinniesitalianeatery.com.