In Northern Kentucky you will find a one-of-a-kind restaurant, an establishment which stands out among its many peers by employing the only classically trained singing waitstaff in the state. Vito’s Cafe in Fort Thomas serves up traditional Italian alongside a dazzling array of vocal performances. All the waiters and waitresses are students in local university music programs and manage to execute delivery of your pasta and delivery of an operatic aria with equal finesse.
Our waiter was Gino Pinzone, a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati – Conservatory of Music (CCM). A first generation Italian American from New York, Gino had just returned from a seven week program in Italy where he had the opportunity to perform at the world famous opera house, Teatro La Fenice, in Venice. Hearing about Gino’s career adventures and then experiencing his talented voice firsthand was a highlight of our evening.
Working the piano like a seasoned entertainer was Pete, who never missed a key and who even took requests between vocal performances. He amused us with a few nostalgic stories and was cheeky enough to offer to let me climb atop his piano to take his picture. If everyone enjoyed their job as much as Pete, the world would be a happier place, indeed.
Considering owner Victor (Vito) Ciepiel graduated from CCM, it is no surprise that he and his wife Mary decided to marry good food with good music when Vito’s opened for business in 2001. Rumor has it that Vito will join in the revelry if the opportunity arises, although on our visit, he and Mary were a hands-on duo managing the front desk and greeting diners tableside. Impressively, Vito was able to name each former employee on his “Wall of Fame” and tell where they are now. The fact that he takes pride in the successes of the young men and women who worked for him and have now achieved their dreams is heartwarming.
Vito’s is destination dining, a unique night out where the owners and staff make you feel welcome as they serve all the Italian comfort food you care to indulge in. The music selections vary from Sinatra to show tunes to opera and all are tastefully performed in an intimate setting which is comfortably casual. Don’t forget to share stories with those around you over your delicious meal because that is the Italian way and that way is being done quite well at Vito’s Cafe.
654 Highland Ave. Suite 29
Ft. Thomas, KY 41075 (859) 442-9444 www.vitoscafe.com