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March 31, 2010 > Restaurant Review: Vito's Ristorante and Pizzeria

Restaurant Review: Vito's Ristorante and Pizzeria

By J. D. Wolfe

Every now and then, reviewing restaurants for TCV leaps past enjoyable and pegs the meter at really great. Such is how I feel about my recent dining experience at Vito's Ristorante and Pizzeria in Newark. Easy to find, Vito's is in the Food for Less shopping center off Stevenson Boulevard in Newark.

When my wife and I arrived, we were met by Chris (the owner) who told us the story on how Vito's began and how he came to own it. Founding owners Vito and Rosalia were both originally from Sicily. Vito's was sold in 2000 and Chris, who had worked for Vito and learned the recipes, left when the new owners took over. He returned in 2008 as the new owner and immediately enlisted the help of his friend Sal who agreed to leave his current position as executive chef for an upscale restaurant in Palo Alto. They immediately began to revive Vito's.

They have succeeded!

We began by ordering appetizers - mozzarella with fresh tomatoes and prosciutto with melon. Served with homemade garlic bread, our introduction to Vito's cuisine was outstanding. On our last trip to Italy, I was especially fond of mozzarella with fresh tomatoes and know "good" versus "not-so-good" mozzarella. Believe me food fans, Vito's serves fresh mozzarella!

Our entrees arrived and after the first bite, decided this is the food of Heaven. My wife ordered Linguine with Shrimp and Crab meat in a white sauce. Usually she offers me a bite of her meal but I had to beg this time.

In the spirit of giving I offered a sample of manicotti, stuffed with ricotta and smothered in a rich tomato sauce. She liked it as well. The veggies - broccoli, squash and carrots - were tasty and enjoyable. I rarely eat cooked broccoli so, for me, this is really saying something. To complement our meal, we ordered a side dish of a meatball and a sausage. Both were excellent.

Although fairly well sated, Sal insisted that we taste his special, thin crust pizza. The aroma, taste and texture are a great substitute for a ticket to Rome to visit a street cafˇ on Via Cavour. It is that good... the flavor was spot on.

Fully satisfied and ready to contemplate a fond farewell, Chris and Sal enticed us to linger with dessert by saying, "They're homemade!" What could we do but say "Yes." A sampling of Creme Brulee, a Canoli, and a piece of Tiramisu were indescribably delicious... beyond complimentary description. A Vito's meal is not complete without this culinary exclamation point.

It has been a privilege to write and share about the places I have visited over the past year. Some are special and Vito's clearly is in this top group. It is a fun place with a comfortable atmosphere and great service. Thank you, Raven (our server). You might just see Sal in the kitchen or Mirabel in the back making sure the whole operation runs smoothly. If you visit mid-week and mention you read this review, Chris may just give you a free beverage with your dinner order.

By the way, Vito and his wife retired and moved back to Sicily after they sold the place. Sadly, Vito passed away a few years ago but Rosalia still occasionally comes back and stops by the place once in a while. Chris has honored them in the only way you would hope - by preparing food the way Vito made it - real authentic Sicilian Italian.

"Veni, Vidi, Vici" - I came, I saw, I [was] conquered!

Reviewed: March 16, 2010

Vito's Ristorante and Pizzeria
39974 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 440-8010

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