If anyone can say they run a true Italian restaurant in Lynchburg, it’s Michele DiGiovanni. “Our cooks are all Italians. They come straight from Italy and make 90 percent of our food right when you order it,” he explains.
Not only that, but serving authentic Italian food is in his blood. DiGiovanni was born and raised in Italy—most of his family still lives there. He moved to the United States when he was 16 and met his wife in Delaware, where they owned a couple of restaurants before turning their sights to piece of property in Lynchburg.
“I have always loved Virginia, and Lynchburg, since way back. We came over here and looked at it,” he says. “Of course, a lot of people said this place here was bad luck—five restaurants had closed before us. But I don’t believe in bad luck, I believe you make your own luck.”
On Labor Day of 2004, they opened La Villa Italian Restaurant, ending the streak of bad luck that had gripped 8109 Timberlake Road for years.
What To Try
At lunchtime, Michele’s wife Rebecca DiGiovanni says, “a lot of people order our subs, especially the Philly Cheesesteak. Because it comes with fries and a drink for $6.99 and you can’t really beat that.”
Plus, La Villa’s classic dishes such as Chicken Romano, Chicken Parmesan and Eggplant Parmesan are popular choices that come in a lunch portion for $6.99 as well.
“It’s got to be affordable for everyone to go out for lunch,” says Michele.
A restaurant specializing in carbohydrates might not seem like the best option for a patron with a gluten allergy. But La Villa has reversed that stereotype.
“We have a lot of gluten-free customers and it seems like it’s growing more and more every year,” says Rebecca.
They have gluten-free pastas, sub rolls and pizza. You can take almost anything on the menu and make it gluten-free.
“When people come over here… we see their faces when they look at the menu and they see it’s not just one or two dishes. They can have things they never thought could be gluten-free,” says Michele. “Because we make everything right at that moment for our customers, it’s so easy to switch it up and make it gluten-free for them.”
You can also count on having your food within about 10 minutes of walking through the door, Michele and Rebecca say—a must for the lunch crowd.
And when the weather warms up, midday customers also will be able to enjoy some fresh air on La Villa’s new, covered patio.