Growing Into Ourselves

Chesterfield Food Scene

Vito’s in the Valley Is Now Gio Modern Italian
By Carol Enright

When Giovanni (“Gio”) and Jessica LaFata opened their new restaurant in Chesterfield in 2013, naming it Vito’s in the Valley seemed natural.

“When we came out to Chesterfield and opened a restaurant after Gio had owned a restaurant (Vito’s Sicilian Pizzeria & Ristorante in Midtown) with his family for so many years, that’s all he ever knew,” says Jessica. “And authentic Sicilian — he’s from Sicily — that’s also he knew. But organically, when we moved to West County, we followed the lead of what our customers wanted and what our team was good at — and it took us in a much more modern interpretation of Italian, not just authentic Sicilian. We allowed our chef to be creative, and what he was putting out was delicious and the community was loving it.”

While Vito’s has always featured LaFata family favorites, such as eggplant parmesan, and held true to their commitment to made-from-scratch Italian meals, many of the menu items reflect Gio’s more modern take on Italian cuisine.

And the name change?

“It’s a name that people have always wanted us to be,” says Jessica. “Since we’ve opened, people have said, ‘Why aren’t you named Gio?’ Because Gio is the face they see every time they come to the restaurant. But we’d already made the choice to carry on the name that my husband had known working in his family’s restaurant for 20 years.”

This past year, Gio and Jessica decided to renovate the restaurant to make it a more authentic reflection of how the couple has always wanted the space to look and feel.

“We did a really beautiful renovation,” says Jessica. “It’s definitely less traditional Italian and much more modern.”

Updating the restaurant’s interior inspired the couple to change the name.

“We’re going to make this transformation from the inside out,” says Jessica. “We just felt like it was the right time to make a change — and we went with it.”

Gio Modern Italian.

The name Gio has a double meaning for the LaFatas. In addition to Gio’s name, Jessica says the true meaning behind the name is captured in the acronym GIO which stands for Growing Into Ourselves.

“I love it, because it really defines our story,” Jessica says. “It’s hard to explain to people but we’re not really changing anything. We’re just being who we were meant to be: growing into ourselves.”

In addition to the updated interior and new sign out front, Jessica says customers can expect to see a few new items on the restaurant’s modern Italian menu and weekend specials that will change from week to week.

Other than that, “not a whole lot of the experience is going to change,” she says.

“It’s just being true to who we are today.”