Sunday, February 6, 2011


as you have gathered by now, we don't do italian that often. but after seeing a lot of positive feedback about vito's, we figured it was worth a shot--and about time we get some pizza in the city from someplace other than pi, just for a change.


vito's looks a lot like we imagine most established italian joints would look.  beigey sponge-painted walls with ceramic plates mounted on them, red vinyl booths, time-worn chairs and tables, the obligatory herb- and vegetable-filled oil jars. maybe a little cheesy, but comfortable. some of the tables seem a little close for comfort, but eating pizza is like watching a comedy--the group experience enhances it.

we were met with no qualms when we requested a different table than the one we were originally given (we're freaks and we like to sit next to each other, not across). our waiter seemed a little impatient, even though it wasn't crowded when we got there. turns out that maybe he's just a tense guy because he was attentive enough and everything came out right. but really, none of the servers looked happy to be there and when clark went to the bar for a beer he was totally snubbed. he attributes this to just not being very pretty, but that doesn't explain why everyone else seemed so surly.

while we waited for our food, we were more than happy to go to town on the bread basket. they're really generous with them, too, but diner beware, these are too hard not to munch on--so don't spoil your appetite!

we started with the portabello spinach salad, featuring fresh spinach, roasted red peppers, feta, pecans, and roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette. first, the spinach was glorious--crispy, beautiful, plump green leaves. bravo, vito's! the portabello was perfectly cooked and sliced small enough so as not to feel too meaty or soggy the way they can sometimes get. the feta and pecans were sprinkled on generously, and the addition of the peppers really balanced an otherwise pretty savory salad. to top it off, it was perfectly dressed; not too much to bog down the spinach, but just enough to add a great balance to the rest of the flavors. even clark, who is usually not a fan of balsamics, remarked how much he enjoyed the dressing. it must be the roasted garlic that helped tame that really distinctly sweet bite of balsamic vinegar. really lovely. obviously not as modern as something you would find at pi, but a truly yummy version of a more traditional salad.

of course, we had to spring for a sicilian pizza since that's vito's specialty. we ordered la cisinara, which comes with eggplant, kalamatas, mushrooms, and fontinella cheese. and because we loved that they offer a selection of whole wheat crust pies, we also got the sun-dried tomato pesto with fresh leaf spinach and fresh mozzarella. la cisinara was an initiation for lois, and clark, who is more familiar with them, thought it was decent. a hit-or-miss, really. it was a little undercooked in the middle, but the crust was fantastically crispy and flavorful. we could taste the freshness of the tomatoes in the sauce, and the addition of spices really saved the pizza. the toppings weren't interesting or plentiful enough to make us forget the softness of the middle of the pie, but when you got some, it was a good bite. the eggplant in particular was surprisingly good. great taste and texture, and in bite-size cubes just small enough not to get soggy. quite a delight, but too bad there were only about eight of them on the whole pie. the whole wheat crust pizza was truly unique. the one downside was the spinach: not enough! with about two leaves per slice, they looked like a complete afterthought. they really ought to use thin slices of spinach; that way, they could fit more on there without it looking like they just dumped a salad on the pizza. but it's a minor complaint, so on to the highlight of the meal: the delicious, perfectly charred, slightly sweet whole wheat crust. we've never had one that tasted like this. the sweetness of the whole wheat combined with the savory-tart pesto and salty fontinella was a spell-casting concoction hypnotizing enough to make us imagine that there could be times when we're not in the mood for pi.

no doubt, we were pleasantly surprised by vito's. while we didn't try any pasta dishes this time, that may be on the docket for our next visit. or maybe we'll just get some bread, some salads, and a whole wheat pie. those slu kids are lucky to be just up the street from this place!


vegetarian-friendly score:

Vito's on Urbanspoon

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