Vitale's Italian Ristorante
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
"Genuino" is the Italian word that comes to mind when you eat at Vitale's Italian Ristorante, located on the second floor of the Plaza Arcade next to SandCastle and above Bully's. Vitale's was first opened in 1967 in Michigan and is still operating there, serving authentic old country recipes. Joseph Vitale, founder, left his brother to run to Michigan restaurant and branched out to Guam, where he founded Vitale's Pizza Queen in 1992. In 1996, Vitale's Italian Ristorante opened in its present location and has pleased the palattes of thousands of visiting tourists as well as hundreds of local residents. It has long been on my list of restaurants to review and I am pleased to have finally enjoyed Joseph Vitale's preparations of traditional Italian favorites. When you eat at Vitale's, you can literally taste the difference in the freshness of his ingredients as well as in the "soul" of the food, which Joseph lovingly brings out with his masterful touch.
Vitale's features Guam's most complete menu of Italian entrees, with 24 pasta selections including Lasagna, Manicotti, Cannoloni, Mostaccioli, Ravioli, Tortellini, Spaghetti (there are 10 different spaghetti dishes), Fettucine Alfredo, Eggplant Parmigiana, Veal Parmigiana, and Linquine Clam, with prices ranging from $8.00 to $14.95.
There are nine types of pizzas available in small (10"), medium (12") and large (14"), with prices from $10.00 to $19.95. Vitale's is known for its awesome Submarine Sandwiches, which I'd actually forgotten about since the Vitale's Pizza Queen days when we used to order take-out for the office. One new sandwich on the menu is the Amore Mio Sub (ham, pepperoni, onion, mushroom, pineapple, green olives, black olives, jalapenos, cheese) for $7.50. Of course, you can't go wrong with the Vitale's Meat Ball Parmigiana ($6.95) covered with a zesty meat sauce. All sandwiches offer your choice of mayo, pizza sauce, or oil & vinegar and can be served hot or cold.
For starters, we ordered a salad ($6.95). This is large enough for two people, and looks just like the picture in Vitale's colorful new menu. It has tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, black and green olives, onions, and lettuce, and is tossed in a light, flavorful home-made Italian (what else?) dressing. Who can resist Garlic Bread when at an Italian restaurant? Be prepared for an over-size loaf of fresh baked bread. It's quite tasty and priced at $2.75; you can order it with cheese for $4.00.
We ordered a small Deluxe Pizza (cheese, ham, onions, pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, and mushrooms) for $16.50. Vitale's pizzas are served on elevated pizza stands that make a spectacular presentation. It's also convenient for serving everyone on the table and leaving space beneath for other dishes. Vitale's mozzarella cheese and special marinara sauce are blended with the meat and vegetable toppings in such a way that one marvels at the quality...this is the kind of pizza that you keep looking at after each bite...it's that good! The bottom crust is beautifully browned and the dough has a distinctly fresh taste.
Another entree we selected was the Cannoloni, which are Italian crepes stuffed with meat and spinach, then smothered with a special meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. This delightful oven-baked creation is served in a casserole and has an addictive flavor of ground seasoned meat with spinach that is enhanced by the marinara and cheese blend. Joseph Vitale takes pride in his food preparation, and no where is it more evident than in the final taste of each entree. The pasta is fresh, home-made, and you can actually taste the flavor of the dough. If you've never had this particular pasta creation, you are in for a pleasant surprise when you try it at Vitale's.
The last Item we had was the Lasagna ($13.95). The processes involved in preparing this dish take time, and when it's placed in front of you, the fragrant aroma wafts up in steam as you cut through the layers of cheese and pasta. A rich marinara sauce blend envelopes this large mound. I can't recall having a better lasagna since I've been reviewing restaurants here. Again, it comes down to the food's creator. Joseph has a passion for his food. This is his business...this is his life. He loves his work, and it shows in his cooking.
Vitale's is open seven days a week, with lunch service from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and dinner from 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Vitale's carries a selection of domestic and imported beers, as well as a modest samplings of wines ideally suited for Italian dining. Try a Chianti Straccali! T-Bone, Porter House and New York Steaks are on the menu, as well as lobster tail and surf/turf combos. Since great care is taken in the preparation of each dish, Vitale's asks that you allow 20-40 minutes preparation time for some of the dinner dishes. You can avail yourself of some appetizers while you wait, such as an Antipasto Tray ($7.95). Enjoy the happy sounds of Italian music in background (I particularly like "That's Amore"!). For take-out, call 646-7692.
So, if it's authentic Italian food you want made by an Italian born in Palermo, Italy, who calls Guam his home, then come and try the hospitality of Joseph Vitale, where the food is "genuino" and where you can "taste the difference."