At the core of 180 Vilano Grill and Pizza, there is a quiet craftsmanship. From Italian-style pizza dough made each day on the restaurant’s antique dough machine to its thick-cut toppings, the small, family-friendly neighborhood eatery between the Vilano Beach Pier and Ocenafront Park serves up a diverse menu of quality, home-style creations without pageantry.
Menu items include favorites such as the My Wife’s Favorite pizza, inspired by Williams’ wife Christina Williams and served up with red sauce, spicy sausage, a ricotta cheese blend and fresh basil and garlic, and the American Pie, an original quarter-pound hamburger with mustard, pickles onions and cheese, wrapped in pizza dough and baked.
Museum-quality nautical decorations adorn the restaurant’s bright and open indoor dining space, creating a vintage atmosphere drawn from Christina Williams’ artistic background in historic recreations. The restaurant sits 66 people, with room for 40 more outside.
In the four years since founding the neighborhood landmark, owner Matthew Williams has not advertised. Word of mouth has been enough, he said. The family-friendly beachside restaurant has a strong local clientele, with a “cult-like” following for its burgers and Italian-style pizza.
Q&A WITH OWNER MATTHEW WILLIAMS
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere?
Casual, nautical, eclectic, beachy.
What is your food philosophy?
Most people are constantly cutting costs. They pre-proportion to make sure that every pickle is the same size, that you get three onions, that you get the same amounts of tomato. I frown on that. I’d rather be good than rich. If it means giving the customer more to make them happier, and my margins are less, they’re going to come back and eat repetitively rather than occasionally.
What type of cuisine do you specialize in?
Pizza, burgers, seafood and pasta.
What is your signature dish?
It’s hard to say. To some people pizza is the signature. To some people burgers are the signature. To some people fish sandwiches are the signature. To some people our specials are our signature. If I had to say one thing, the most unique item on our menu, that’s invented by us and we’ve never seen anywhere else, would be the American Pie.
What would you recommend for a first timer?
I recommend things that they get commonly in other restaurants. When you order a burger, you know it’s not like anybody else’s. I recommend the things that people can get and say “Wow, that is a step above what we’re used to.” I recommend the fish sandwich. I recommend the burger. I recommend the low-priced items. … It’s different than most business philosophies.
Price Range: $-$$
Location: 180 Vilano Road, St. Augustine
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday to Monday | 4 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday