In all the places I’ve lived and visited, I never felt the need for Caribbean take out. Now that I’ve checked out Carib Shack, I’m glad we have a place like this in Hampton Roads, both because of the food and the service.
Vinny Michael Gagliani, the owner and chef at Carib Shack, was welcoming and accommodating from the second I walked in the door. He and his associate Stephanie introduced themselves with friendly smiles and warm handshakes, asking about our food preferences, allergies, noting what was gluten-free and vegetarian, then taking our orders.
They continued this five-star service with every single customer who walked in the door, and there were several.
The restaurant is definitely take-out “shack-style” with just a few tables and a counter, but I’m so glad we chose to dine-in. The smells were heavenly for the stewed beef and curry chicken and they tasted amazing. These proteins were obviously cooked with care and they were tender and flavorful. The coconut rice was a refreshing break from the standard rice you’d get with a regular curry (although plain white rice is available) and who doesn’t love plantains?
Vinny and Stephanie chose Virginia Beach for many of the same reasons we do: low crime, high growth, great reputation and friendly people. Vinny was born and raised in St. Thomas and took his first job as a teenager working with food and turned that into a career with impressive accolades from the Ritz Carlton.
Carib Shack is obviously a labor of love for both of them. “I’ve had the idea for five years,” Vinny said, “I’m drafting menus in my head all the time. We have nothing to do but to cook good food.”
As great as the food is, I beg to differ. The real stand out for me (besides the awesome rum cake) was the service. Vinny and Stephanie both shared stories of their regulars for whom the pair can prepare their meal on sight without asking for the order. They laughed about bumping into neighbors/customers at the grocery store and tearful goodbyes from military friends. “We like how everyone is so close to the area.” Stephanie said. “We love how everyone stays so close and knows each other really well. There’s a sense of community.”
I am glad to have Carib Shack as part of our Hampton Roads community.
For your own taste of the islands, try Vinny’s Banana Bread!
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
- confectioners sugar
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- Spray loaf pan with non-stick spray.
- Put flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and mix to combine. Melt the butter.
- Add the sugar and melted butter to the flour mixture and beat until blended.
- Add in eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas.
- Scrape into the loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until a toothpick in the middle tests clean.
- Cool the pan on a rack.
- In a small bowl, mix confectioners sugar and water until it is a glaze consistency.
- Pour over the bread slowly. Slice, smile & serve.