When I’m heading out for a review I usually have no trouble finding a partner to ride shotgun. After all, who can say no to a free meal? This week it was down to the wire, and circumstance after circumstance prevented my usual diners from tagging along on a last-minute mission.

Yeah, poor Andy was about to have to dine all alone. Before you feel too sorry for me or accuse me of poor planning, understand I often enjoy dining alone when reviewing a place. I don’t have to listen to someone else’s opinions about how so and so’s version is better or gossip about the owners. It’s a pure review.

The only drawback is it may tip off the server when a fool such as I orders multiple entrees and appetizers. I’m full of excuses for this scenario ranging from, “I was diagnosed with a serious tapeworm,” to “this is training for a competitive eating tournament.” The best part is I get to try everything!

Today’s mark was an excellent suggestion, and those who couldn’t attend are certainly sad they couldn’t make it. I had one heck of a meal at Daphne’s Cousin Vinny’s.

Cousin Vinny’s on Main Street in Daphne  is the casual alternative to Guido’s.

Cousin Vinny’s on Main Street in Daphne is the casual alternative to Guido’s.

For those of you who don’t know, Vinny’s (as it is known) is actually a part of Guido’s. It’s the bar side of the building. It’s more of the “take a seat wherever you wish,” so it was perfect for a hungry man flying solo.

I was deep into the menu and quickly ordered a couple of appetizers before I noticed the chalkboard menu of daily specials. The zuppa di giorno was corn and crab bisque ($4.95 per cup). It came out immediately, which is good to know if you are facing time constraints. An excellent version, I felt we were off to a good start.

I wasn’t touching the complimentary bread knowing how much food I was ordering. My second item was an order of chicken wings ($9.95). If you are looking for something nontraditional then these are for you. The drumettes and flappers are covered with a red sauce that according to the menu is comprised of sundried tomatoes, chipotle and poblano peppers, basil, and turbinado sugar. It’s an enjoyably odd twist from what I am used to, though I probably wouldn’t order a few dozen for the big game. Bleu cheese or ranch? Neither. Vinny’s serves these with Caesar dressing for dipping.

I had barely made a dent in the chicken wings when the chalkboard special caught my eye. Spinach and cheese ravioli ($12.95) was imperative on this day. Served with squash, broccoli, red bell pepper and pork tenderloin in a port wine reduction sealed the deal for me.

First off, the ravioli had that round, homemade feel of freshness. The vegetables, though cooked to death, deserved to be. Every bite was well seasoned and tender, while the thinly sliced tenderloin was almost as soft as the veggies. The sauce was not lacking flavor, nor was it overly salty. I couldn’t think about touching the two humongous spears of bread that topped the plate.

I am always in the mood for a muffuletta ($8.95). For my gluttony I came up with a routine that went something like, “I have to bring a sandwich back to work for my friend.” Forgive me for lying. Now let’s just say that I am a muffuletta snob. Let’s say that the bread is the most important part of this particular sandwich. I suspected the sandwich to be on a sub-style bread because of the price. My suspicion was correct. I knew there was no way I was getting a real muffuletta for less than 10 bucks.

Cousin Vinny's

My complaints, however, stop there. As far as muffuletta hoagies go this one ranks high. The olive salad, meats and cheese were plentiful despite the blasphemy.

My Cousin Vinny’s is truly an Eastern Shore gem. Everyone brags about the tuna sandwich, so I must return for one of those. The service was very good. The food was excellent. I didn’t mind the price at all. One could eat there and keep it under $10 not including the tip. I was very impressed with the hearty lunch special and how well it worked as a summer meal. I would love to revisit that earthy dish in the fall.

Yes, I admit to being cranky about the different versions of our beloved iconic sandwich. It’s something I should work on, but I do believe in renaming it if it isn’t a real muffuletta. Calling it a muffuletta poboy would prevent people like me from complaining. After all, you don’t call a cheeseburger a cheeseburger if it comes on sliced bread or Texas toast. That aside, there is some magic going on over there.

I hate that none of my normal diners got to show up for this review. Though I got to try plenty of menu items on my lonesome maiden voyage, it would have been nice to have sampled a bit more. That will be less of an issue than I am making it out to be. There is no doubt I shall return.

Guido’s/Cousin Vinny’s
1709 Main St.
Daphne, AL