Sometimes, a sad event leads to a happy new beginning. That was the case for chef Luca Pesci, who lost his job after the death of his boss and the closure of the restaurant Boccaccio. He eventually landed at Vito’s Cafe in Cockeysville—a move that has benefited not only the former chef but the restaurant, too. Pesci gained needed employment, and Vito’s has now become a go-to place in suburbia.
These days, you’d be wise to make reservations for dinner at the unassuming storefront restaurant in Scott’s Corner Shopping Center. On a recent Tuesday, the place was packed with diners who were there for one reason—the excellent Italian fare made with the freshest ingredients.
The dining room isn’t fancy, but the crisp white tablecloths, cinnamon/beige color scheme, knowledgeable service, and friendly host make the setting attractive in its own way. The restaurant is BYOB with a reasonable $3 corkage fee.
We had a hard time making up our minds about what to order. The menu is appealing with its list of traditional dishes. We finally settled on the clams casino—hot and plump, though a tad too bready—and a wonderful array of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced prosciutto, and ribbons of roasted sweet peppers.
My sister and I debated over who had the best entree. Of course, she always thinks she’s right. And I have to agree that her veal Oscar was delectable with melt-in-your-mouth veal medallions generously smothered with sautéed asparagus and lumps of crabmeat in a sweet brown “royal” sauce.
Still, I think my herb-dusted salmon with sautéed spinach was pretty special, too. The fillets were bursting with flavor in a lemon white-wine sauce. Each meal came with a side dish of spaghetti coated with an uninspiring tomato sauce.
Whatever you order, the portions are huge. We had more than enough to take home for leftovers.
There are also pastas available like fettuccine Bolognese, linguini with pesto, and rigatoni Vodka. Vito’s is a family-friendly place, too, with wood-fired pizza and a kids menu.
Desserts feature the usual suspects like tiramisu and cannoli, but there are some surprises, like the profiterole, which didn’t look like a profiterole—for one thing, it’s served in a glass dish. I actually summoned a server because I thought I’d been served the wrong dessert.
But Vito’s version is delicious, and it’s even better if you’re a chocolate lover. A puff pastry with vanilla cream is hidden beneath a thick layer of luscious chocolate cream. We also indulged in a decadent chocolate fondant layer cake—good on all counts, probably because the chocolate is imported from Italy.
Together, Vito’s Cafe and chef Pesci have found a way to turn a difficult situation into a successful venture. It’s a win-win for diners, too.