Gio and Jessica LaFata have a lot for which to be thankful. And they want their community to know it.
Gio Modern Italian is celebrating a decade of delicious success in business this year, and the LaFatas say the community they enjoy is their most treasured accomplishment of all.
With a talented team and supportive community at its core, Gio and Jess were encouraged to expand the menu beyond traditional Italian. Throughout the years, the restaurant leaned into their love for creativity to welcome more modern Italian cuisine, a long list of worldly wines and handcrafted cocktails. Quickly, their award-winning “Happy Hour,” catering and trendy “Brunch and Bottomless Bubbly” began to soar. As the restaurant grew into something greater, Gio and Jess decided it was time to give it a look and name to match the feel.
To kick off celebrations, Gio and Jess did a full remodel of the restaurant and changed the name to Gio Modern Italian. Gio is not only the owner but also serves as an acronym that has emboldened the evolution of the Chesterfield-based Sicilian restaurant and pizzeria over the last decade. “It means we are ‘Growing Into Ourselves,’” Jessica says. “We are becoming who we always wanted to be, and the community has embraced it. We are still the same family place to gather. And we are still a place who wants to give back to our community. At our core, we’re still the same: the same flavors, the same food, the same cocktails. We are just coming into our own.”
Jess calls it a “collaboration between team talent and customer input. We’ve all had a hand in who we are today. There is not a single item on the menu that we’ve created that hasn’t had some influence from our guests. That way they’ve been able to grow with us.”
For Gio and Jess, it’s just being grateful to the community they serve, and showing it through the way they take their customers' ideas and needs into consideration in everything they do. “The connection is strong with our community,” Jess says. “This is the time of the year where catering really shines. And our catering has bonded us with the community. Being part of these life events and celebrating as family and friends come together is so special. I tell our team that we will be a part of the memory books. Our photos will be in wedding albums and baby books forever. It’s a very intimate thing to be chosen to be a part of such special life events.”
“Even though we are the same since our name change, our menu has evolved. Our staff has grown. Our community has grown. We are still the same family; and we feel the same as we did when we opened 10 years ago. Gio and I have always treated this place like a second home.”
Jess says part of showing gratitude to the community is offering new menu items and seasonal specials that people can get excited about, even if they come in three times a week. Gio offers seasonal specials weekly to give variety to guests looking for in-season specials or something different for those who come in every day.
Gio’s “Apple Cider Sangria,” is undoubtedly a fan favorite, made up of champagne, apple cider, crown royal apple, fireball cinnamon whiskey, fresh apple slices and a cinnamon stick. Gio’s Butternut Squash Pizza uses a virgin olive oil base instead of marinara, soppressata (an Italian dry salami), burrata cheese and is topped with fresh herbs, fried kale and butternut squash.