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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

The Spirit of a Sicilian Square

December 20, 1990|AMY McCURDY

The first thing you notice is the LIGHTS. Red, green and white everywhere--and don't dismiss this as a seasonal salute to St. Nick. Those are the colors of the Italian flag! This is Angelo's & Vinci's we're talking here!

And it's more than just lights we're talking. Owner Steve Peck (baptized Stefano Iganizo Apostle Pecoraro) says he wants the whole place--right down to the smells of simmering sauces and garlic and bread--to evoke the spirit of a Sicilian square on St. Ciro's Day. The paintings and photos and religious objects that adorn the walls, meanwhile, compose a very personal and sentimental family album, lovingly collected over the decades. Steve named the place after Michelangelo and da Vinci, his parents' favorite artists.

Peck himself is a dancer/actor who first came to this building in Fullerton in 1971, hoping to use it for theatrical purposes. It dates back to the early 1900s and was a vaudeville house at one time: Pulleys and spotlights still hover high above the checkered tablecloths. To make a long story short, Peck--who often prepared meals for his father's dance students as a child--got into the habit of cooking for his performers, and the tasty meals became so popular that Angelo's & Vinci's was born. The menu remains affordable, and is extensive.

In addition to standard Italian fare, check out the fettuccine di Nonna (with fresh basil and cream, chopped tomatoes, Romano cheese, olive oil, fresh garlic) and the rich Sicilian casserole (sausages baked with onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, olives and red sauce). Portions are generous. There are excellent gourmet pizzas, too (try the Sicilian pie, with ham, mozzarella, spinach, ricotta, provolone, salami, herb sauce and garlic butter).

For dessert: cassata di Palermo--a Sicilian holiday cake usually served at weddings, birthdays and baptisms--features three layers of chocolate, vanilla mousse, fresh cream, rum and almonds. A nice alternative to spumoni. But you want spumoni? They got spumoni.

But you better hurry! Peck's lease is about to run out, and the owners are talking about tearing the building down. He plans to reopen next door, but if you want to be able to say you went to the original Angelo's & Vinci's, there's still time.

Angelo's & Vinci's, 516 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton. Open Sundays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays till 11:45. (714) 879-4022.

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