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Tracking the Tastes of Italy

Vito's Brings Back Sicily's Secrets

Article by Julie Brown Patton

Photography by Courtesy: Vito's in the Valley

Originally published in Chesterfield Lifestyle

Is it really an Italian meal if pizza or pasta isn't included? Well, in Sicily, Italy, they might say memorable meals center around olive oil from olives plucked from their yards, fresh-baked bread, sausage-eggplant sandwiches, swordfish and really great wines from hand-picked grapes. 

Giovanni and Jessica LaFata, co-owners of Vito's in the Valley restaurant in Chesterfield, recently returned from a trip to Italy to visit with Gio's extended family.

"We ate with different family members for every meal but didn't consume the same thing twice," Jessica says. 

As tradition after the LaFatas' trips to the Sicily region, the couple discussed the food trends and tastes to which they were exposed in Italy that might make a great addition to their restaurant's menu. Jessica says they were especially impressed with the basil pesto lasagna they had, which was, "melt-in-your-mouth rich but still light with a creamy taste sensation." She says they had this lasagna, topped with pine nuts, with white wine on an outside patio, and they simply fell in love with it.

Jessica says that version of lasagna was four layers high, but that it wasn't overwhelmingly heavy in its consumption sensation. "We definitely are going to find a way to add this sensational lasagna to our menu," she adds. 

Another item they had within 90% of their meals was swordfish, prepared in a variety of ways. "Italians showcase their swordfish much like we Americans highlight filet mignon," Jessica explains. 

Jessica says they even got to participate in a fish fry, which contained various sizes of lightly breaded fish. She was surprised to learn that her favorite bites were actually sardines. "They weren't at all salty or oily," she says.

It goes to show Americans that Italian dishes may be rooted in old-world Italy notions but actually are ever-changing!

Giovanni and Jessica LaFata, owners of Vito's in the Valley restaurant, vow to search for the best ways to infuse their restaurant's menu with new dishes and authentic flavors from individual ingredients celebrated in Italy—keeping many of their offerings fresh and light. 

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