Authentic Italian Cuisine that’s Worth the Drive
If you have been searching for authentic Italian cuisine, then look no further. Vingenzo’s, located in Woodstock, GA, is unique in that every dish is created with individual attention and care. To Chef Mike Bologna, it doesn’t matter how many great meals he has prepared in the past. All that matters is the next meal and the next customer he is serving. I had the privilege of interviewing Chef Mike. You would never know someone with so many awards and accolades is one of the most humble people you could come across.
SFL: What makes you special?
It’s not Americanized whatsoever. It’s what we do in Italy. Everything is made here on the premises. I make my own sausage. I make my own pasta. I make my own pizza. I make my own gelato. Everything is made fresh every day. When we run out we run out for that day and we make it again tomorrow.
Most of my clientele is from a 30-plus mile basis. They drive to the restaurant knowing that the love and the care and respect for ingredients is there and the quality of the product is on the plate. Hopefully, they have the most fantastic meal that they’ve ever had. Also, it might bring back memories from when they were a child if they had this type of food when they were younger. And I hope that they experience a true dining experience with a true value.
SFL: Where did the idea for the restaurant come about?
It was all because I wanted a true Italian pizza. I visited Italy quite a bit and I wanted pizza like they served in Naples. So I built an oven and the entire restaurant was built around the oven.
SFL: Is the business today what you had imagined it to be at the start and how has it changed or evolved?
I wanted a small place so that I can have my pizza. And then it just grew and evolved. It kept growing and became much larger than I had anticipated. This initial concept was not this big. But knowing that there are individuals who crave for the true product I’m happy to do what I do for them.
SFL: Is there anything you wish you knew at the start of your business that you know now?
A: The business was built on the customer’s needs so I didn’t overextend and bring it to what I only wanted to do. The only thing I wanted to do was keep it true to the cuisine and keep a great plate value. That’s the main thing I wanted to do and I never waivered from that. As far as the growth of the restaurant, that all came from the customer. I started out in 2008, just before 2009 when the economy started to tank out. As the clientele base grew the demands for quality and wants and needs I expanded that. The food quality has always stayed the same at the highest level.
SFL: How would you rank the importance of consistency in your cuisine?
Consistency is everything. When you go to a restaurant and you have something you really liked, you have been excited enough to tell someone else, when you go back or when that person goes there that you told, you expect it to be the same quality or higher.
I am always striving for perfection. Here my attitude is very simple. The pursuit of perfection is where excellence is the norm. Mediocre isn’t in our vocabulary. The way I look at it is how can I be better every day. It’s not what I have done. It’s what I am going to do. It’s not the meal that I served you. It’s the next meal that I’m going to serve somebody else.
Our publisher Michelle Taylor Willis has this to say about Vingenzo’s: “The food was amazing. I would love to have a Chef Mike in South Fulton. He makes everything from scratch and you can taste the love for what he does in his food.”
Chef Mike is not against opening new restaurants. “It only depends. I’m leaving it wide open.” We might be lucky to get him to open something in South Fulton!