Newsmagazine Network: Vito’s in the Valley brings owner ‘full circle’

What would possess a man to leave his brothers and the security of a successful, family-run restaurant in the city to branch out and start anew?

For Giovanni LaFata, it was the chance to share his passion for the restaurant business and work with an incredible staff in the place he calls home: Chesterfield Valley. “I grew up in Chesterfield. I went to Parkway Cen-tral. I disappeared from Chesterfield for about 15 years and experienced the city life, and now we’re back,” said LaFata, who in October opened Vito’s in the Valley in Chesterfield Towne Centre. He credits his mother, Caterina Maltese, and Executive Chef Gianfranco Munna for inspiring him to bring Vito’s to the Valley.“(They) showed me this location, and I was immediately willing to just run from Midtown and leave (Vito’s) in the great hands of my brothers, Marco and Vito,” LaFata said.

LaFata also credits his mother for teaching him every-thing he knows about the restaurant business. “She’s always been an angel in my ear,” he said. “She taught me about patience and talking to people in a certain way and having a respectful restaurant; that if you have good food, hopefully great food, great service, it really reflects.”LaFata’s mother and Munna designed the menu, bringing some offerings from Vito’s in Midtown, while making some changes LaFata described as “not better, but different.” From sandwiches to fresh risotto specials, seafood, steaks and desserts, dishes are treated with culinary respect, showcasing fresh ingredients and a strong Sicilian flair. “Sicilian has a little bit more sweetness to it,” LaFata explained.Vito’s also features Sicilian and Italian wines, local draft and bottled beers and cocktails suited for every palette and dish.For starters, Vito’s arancinis (deep-fried risotto balls) and calamari are tried-and-true favorites.

“We bread our calamari fresh in a really light breading, so it’s really crispy,” said LaFata, who promises customers will never be served a plate of pre-frozen calamari. “I’d put dollar for dollar up to anybody that I have the small-est freezer space in St. Louis. We bring everything in fresh – that’s just the way we wanted to do it here,” LaFata said.That includes fresh oysters for Friday and Saturday night’s oyster bar, where presentation and deliciousness go hand-in-hand.Pizza comes two ways: Sicilian and original-style. “Our Sicilian pizzas are just unbelievable,” said LaFata. “They’re baked in extra-virgin olive oil and take about 40 minutes. They’re the real deal.”

Vito’s’ original-style pizzas are hand-tossed and famous. “My dad started making pizzas in the late ‘60s at Gas-light Square, and we’ve been using the same dough recipe, the same 100 percent mozzarella cheese, the same sauce,” LaFata said. “The year I was born, my dad was featured on ‘Regis and Kathy Lee.’ For a long time, my dad was the talk of the town, and my dad’s pizza skills are what made us what we are today, as far as pizza goes.”LaFata credits his wife, Jessica LaFata, for creating Vito’s’ modern Italian atmosphere. With the bar, dining room and patios, Vito’s can host 140-180 guests for events. Catering is available as well.

For LaFata, Vito’s in the Valley is much more than a restaurant; it is the place he is excited to call home. “I’m just so happy and proud to be part of the Valley – to be part of the community that has been so welcoming,” he said. “It’s like I’ve done a full circle. ”

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Sauce Magazine’s Budget Crunch: Delicious dishes and sweet deals right now

Vito’s in the Valley was highlighted on Budget Crunch, where reporter Byron Kerman offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now.

“Vito’s in the Valley has a new Harvest Pizza that turns seasonal ingredients into a formidable pie for $12. Sage pesto, yellow squash, caramelized red onions, prosciutto, goat cheese and Parmesan work together on this one.”

Read the original article here.

St. Louis Magazine’s First Look: Vito’s in the Valley

I can honestly look my daughters in the eye and tell them “this isn’t your father’s Vito’s.”

Actually, their father’s Vito’s doesn’t even exist anymore, its original location at 3559 Lindell Boulevard having been demolished about a decade ago. (If memory serves, the charming but deteriorating Marina building that housed Vito’s is now a sculpture park or a dog park, the polite names for a vacant, albeit well-maintained, lot. That’s a further bit of context for Jeannette Cooperman’s excellent retrospective of the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, SLM’s cover story in October.

So what most people think of as the “original” Vito’s at 3515 Lindell is actually V1.1. And now there’s a V2.0, Vito’s in the Valley, which is about the twentieth or so restaurant to occupy 138 Chesterfield Towne Centre, just off the corner of Edison and Long roads.

The new place took the space that was most recently Picasso’s Bistro and sleekified it with polished concrete floors, vividly colored walls and Italian-themed photographs and artwork.

The pizza (original hand-tossed, Sicilian, whole wheat and calzone) and pasta menus in the Valley are very parallel if not identical to the Lindell location (including prices), but the entrée menu stretches out and up quite a bit (Vitello Tonnato at right), topping out with a couple of steaks and a seafood mixed grill in the $25 range.

Gio(vanni) La Fata runs the Chesterfield location; his brother Vito is on Lindell. The original (now demolished) Vito’s opened in 1996, but the La Fata pizza pedigree goes all the way back to 1964, when Gio and Vito’s father opened Pino’s Pizza in Gaslight Square.

Can Gio succeed where Gabrielle’s, KoBa, Trattoria Branica, and Picasso’s Bistro (and maybe more, I can’t remember) have failed? Well, the place was almost packed when we were there during its first week. And if they deliver some menus across the parking lot to iTap (the International Tap House, which has no food but allows it to be ordered or carried in), they’ll add on a heck of a carryout business.

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St. Louis Post Dispatch: Vito’s in the Valley opens in Chesterfield

Vito’s in the Valley, the second location of Vito’s Sicilian Pizzeria & Ristorante in Midtown, is now open at 138 Chesterfield Town Centre in Chesterfield.

In fact, Off the Menu is a week late with this news: Vito’s in the Valley officially opened on October 2.

The menu is slightly different from the menu at the original location. Of course, the new Vito’s offers pizza, both regular and Sicilian-style deep-dish. However, there are some differences among the pasta dishes, and Vito’s in the Valley features more entrées than the original does.

Vito’s in the Valley is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 636-536-3788.

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Riverfront Times: Vito’s Coming to the Chesterfield Valley

There isn’t a set opening date yet as the restaurant is still under construction, but Gio tells Gut Check he’s aiming for mid-September. It has been four restaurants previously, so he just has work to do to make it his restaurant. When we spoke to him, the dark chestnut polished concrete floor was being worked on.

The menu will be similar to the flagship Vito’s Pizzeria. “There’s not much of that out here [in Chesterfield], a pizza-strong menu like we have downtown. I’ll probably do some different entrees and appetizers, but more or less it will be the same,” Gio says. He’s still looking for a head chef.

“We’re just gonna spread some cheer in Chesterfield and bring out some pizza and pasta and entrees,” Vito says. The brothers had been thinking about a new location for some time, and the Valley seemed like a perfect fit for the modern Sicilian restaurant because of the new outlet malls — plus, they grew up in Chesterfield.

Their mother, Caterina Maltese, will serve as executive chef — sort of. “Executive ball-buster is what she is,” Gio says. “Anybody who’s got a good Sicilian mom would say the same thing!”

Read the original article here.

Sauce Magazine: Vito’s to bring its Italian fare to Chesterfield Valley

Longtime Midtown Italian restaurant and pizzeria Vito’s will open a second location, Vito’s in the Valley, at 138 Chesterfield Towne Centre in Chesterfield, as reported by the Riverfront Times’ Nancy Stiles.

Giovanni La Fata, who has managed the Midtown restaurant with his brother Vito La Fata for nearly 20 years, said they always planned to open another location. Since many Vito’s customers are frequent theatergoers from St. Louis County, a restaurant out west made good business sense. “Chesterfield Valley is blowing up with outlet malls and is doing so well,” he said. “We went as far west as you could go, and Vito’s in the Valley has such a nice ring to it.”

Giovanni will oversee day-to-day operations at the 150-seat space that once housed Trattoria Branica, while Vito and brother Marco will manage the original location. The Chesterfield menu will include many of Vito’s classic Sicilian-style dishes and pizzas, but the brothers are discussing new entrees and appetizers that will make appearances on both menus. Giovanni is currently on the hunt for an executive chef.

With construction underway, Vito’s in the Valley is slated to open in late September. “I can’t wait,” Giovanni said. “I can’t even sleep past 4 a.m. anymore; I’m up doing stuff on the computer. I’m scheduling myself in the morning and going crazy for the entire day. I love it.”

Read the original article here.