Villa forever 

Restaurants around these parts tend to stick around a long time or not at all. But to be a mainstay in Little Rock for 58 years? That's something else.

It's a claim the Villa can make. This Italian restaurant has met all contenders through the years, and though the menu has expanded a bit, the same rich sauces and hand-rolled pastas greet new and old who come to Rock Creek Square, which has housed the restaurant now for about a decade.

Don't get us wrong; it's not exactly the same. The little cozy and dark restaurant the Calabros ran has been gone a long time, but the legacy remains.

We ventured over for a bite on a Saturday night, hoping for hot bread and cool beverages, and weren't disappointed. Our waitress made sure we had plenty of the fresh slices of bread at all times with piles of butter pats (no olive oil and black pepper here).

Dinners come with both a salad and minestrone soup. No one in these parts does minestrone so well, with all the depth of flavor and harmonic resonance you get from tender and timely preparation. You could eat nothing but the minestrone — along with that fresh hot bread, of course — and be happy. The house salad is a lettuce and vinegar creation with lots of tart vinaigrette and curds of mozzarella. The Caesar, however, is probably the best you'll find in town.

We also sampled the toasted ravioli ($7.29) and were quite happy with the crisp, spicy meat pockets in their perky marinara sauce.

Our companion went for the cutlets Soriento ($18.79), veal breaded and cooked in brandy, marsala wine and mushrooms in a cheese sauce. The complexity of the sauce complemented the veal wonderfully. It's accompanied by meat-filled cannelloni in mozzarella and white cheese sauce, by itself a pleasant and hearty dish.

We also chose the chicken Vatican ($15.29), and were rewarded with slices of chicken breast in a delicate combination of white wine and mushroom reduction. The accompanying side of spaghetti was a perfect ying to the entree's yang. In fact, the worst we can say about our entire experience was that plates came too heaping.

On a subsequent visit, we went for lunch and gave the chicken parmigiano ($7.99) a try. The smaller portion comes with bread, a choice of soup or salad and a side of spaghetti. The surprisingly tender chicken and its breading make a good companion to that irreplaceable red sauce.

There are a selection of desserts available; while we did enjoy the chocolate chip creme brulee cheesecake with its flame-exposed crusty top, we'd suggest going for one of the house-made desserts, particularly the Damn Good Chocolate Cake, a gorgeous chocolate and pecan sponge cake soaked in chocolate sauce and dabbled with confectioners sugar. Decadent as hell, but you only live once.


The Villa

12111 West Markham

(Rock Creek Square Shopping Center)


Quick Bite

The wait staff doesn't press wine very hard, which means it's up to you to ask. Wine pairings are available, or you can go back and look at the massive Wall-Of-Wine on the southeast side of the restaurant and choose your own. Selections are wide and varied.


11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Other info

Credit cards accepted. Full bar. Extensive kids' menu.


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Most Shared

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation