More permanent mergers and deals that have meant big business (to relationships, that is) at The Villa over the past 50+ years than you can count. From its start as a small dark little dater’s hot spot on Hayes (which later would become University Avenue), to a brief 90s stint in the Holiday Inn on Shackleford, to its current haunts at Rock Creek Square at Markham and Bowman, it’s stayed that way.

Almost. While I was utterly thrilled to be able to rub two dimes together 16 years ago to share my first special date there with the man who’d become my husband, it was a more intimate experience — and so dark inside at night that it was hard to determine the color of the tablecloth. Ah, that could just be memory talking. It was probably bright as day and I just remember it different.

Today, it IS different — in that while yes, it’s still one of those date-night places, you tend to see more kids there, more families. There’s even a special kids menu wrapped in cellophane for the young’uns. The walls are brightly painted, there’s plenty of space for an impressive display of available wines, and you can even dine outside if you like (and be waited on; I suppose you could have ordered out at the old restaurant and eaten in your car, but what the heck would that have done for you?).

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And the sauce? Oh, it’s still the same (more on the jump).