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Every Friday through the end of 2018, the Rant will feature a dish that stands out among Lee County’s restaurant scene. It’ll usually be a lunch item, but we’re not making any hard and fast rules – we hope only to let you know (if you don’t already) about the many dining options we have that are owned and operated locally. In this, the inaugural edition of “The Rant for Lunch,” we look at Cafe Vesuvio’s rotisserie chicken.

Cafe Vesuvio may be known mostly for its pizza and other Italian fare, but the rotisserie chicken is not to be missed. While the style of preparation has become more widely available locally in recent years, thanks to the recent arrival of Latin American restaurants like Alpaca, Vesuvio’s been at it for more than 20 years.

35463648_10216718491377356_4102022349858013184_nTHE DISH: On Vesuvio’s menu, the restaurant describes the rotisserie preparation as “the oldest and healthiest way to cook chicken.”

“While it cooks, the fat drips, leaving the chicken juicy and delicious,” the menu reads, stoking your hunger pangs and drawing you in.

Available in a variety of presentations (half of a chicken, quarters of white or dark meat, shredded on a plate of rice or a salad, even on a sandwich), the Rant recommends trying the two quarters of dark meat (pictured) for maximum juiciness, crisped skin, and spit-roasted flavor. For $8.29, you get the chicken as well as bread and two sides. It’s hard to go wrong with the fried zucchini, and the steamed broccoli is a nice contrast to the richness of the dark meat. You’ll fill up – portion wise, this is probably more a dinner than a lunch, but we’re not here to judge your caloric intake – and you’ll want to have it again.

WHAT ELSE TO TRY: If you’re in the mood for something more traditionally “Italian,” the Caprese appetizer ($6.99/$8.99, depending on size) explodes with fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella flavors, while the Farfalle Bella Donna ($10.25) balances pasta and a cream sauce with the earthiness of sauteed mushrooms.

Cafe Vesuvio is located at 1944 S. Horner Blvd. in Sanford and can be reached by phone at (919) 774-9966. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. To see the full menu, visit their website.

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