Eric Scheffer

Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian


Photo by Lynne Harty

What is your favorite part of being a restaurant owner in Asheville?

My favorite part of being a restaurant owner in Asheville is working with my staff to help develop both their personal and professional growth. It is my experience that constantly striving to be better as people translates into creating an amazing experience for guests. And though that amazing experience is the desired end result, it is the process that makes what I do so rewarding.

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

The name of my restaurant comes from a very good friend of my father’s, Vinnie Cappola, a man who owned several pizzerias and small neighborhood Italian “joints” in New York City and on Long Island where I grew up. Vinnie inspired me to want to serve the abundance of food, fun, and laughter everyone experienced with him.

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

My favorite dish on our menu is our: Our Grilled Octopus, but it’s like asking me if I have a favorite child (which I do).

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR restaurant’s menu?

My favorite dish from an AIR member restaurant is Posana’s Grilled Nebrodini Mushrooms with lemon, tarragon and ramp aioli.

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

I didn’t necessarily choose Asheville I believe Asheville chose me. I came to Asheville to visit a friend with my wife. Within four days of being here, I/we knew that this was where we were going to spend the rest of our lives. I gave up an 18-year career in the Entertainment Business and moved to Asheville to reinvent myself, renew my soul, and begin a new career path.

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

My favorite chef’s tool is my palate. The journey that includes creating new dishes, trying new product, and working with local vendors keeps every day filled with exploration, wonderment and excitement.