By July 8, 2014 Read More →

BarView – Veni, Vidi, Vino, Vito’s

Veni, Vidi, Vino, Vito’s
By: A lushed out Kate Serpa
Photos: Philip Johnson
The 4th of July is the ultimate drunk girl of all the calendar holidays. Respectable, reasonable holidays have the decency to come at the mid or end of the month — they give you something to look forward to, and give you time to plan and prepare. The 4th is a no-go for planning pleasantries; it’s like, “I’m coming in immediately, so you better buy expensive fireworks that leave you feeling unfulfilled and smelling like sulfur, and you better go to your boring neighbor’s bbq in the heat and sun with a whole lot of people you don’t care for and have to talk to while you sweat your face off, and you better tell everyone you love me or else you’re unpatriotic.” If those aren’t some drunk girl demands there, I don’t know what is.

I do want to confirm, however, that I am not unpatriotic; I support all things American, I just don’t like being teased.

After the 4th, nothing is really happening until freaking October, which leaves an ocean-sized blank space of not a whole lot to do. Boo. My July-October promise to you, ModestoView, is to keep my outings with Phil fresh, preferably indoors, and, most importantly, classy as hell. You know that euphoric feeling you get when you go into a restaurant you’ve never been to? You eat amazing food, drink amazing drinks, look around and wonder, “Why the hell haven’t I been here before? And where is the damn Lyft that is going to cart my lushed-out sensory-overloaded body home?”

See, I’ve worked downtown for quite a while now. I feel fairly confident I know about the places that should be on the map; what I like about downtown Modesto(Tresetti’s), and what I don’t so much care for (waiting in line to get into anywhere) — and yet Modesto, being the elusive town she can sometimes be, never ceases to roll out surprises. Right when I think I’ve been everywhere and downtown stagnancy starts to set in, Phil always finds something fantastic that’s been right under my nose. Phil says there’s only one place in Modesto he’ll go to for Italian — seriously, how have I never been to Vito’s Ristorante?

Vito’s refers to itself as “A taste of Italy in downtown Modesto.” The dark interior, frescoed walls, exposed full kitchen, breezeway patio dining, lush foods, smooth cocktails, and elegant bar send out a more East Coast sumptuous vibe to me — which makes total sense as owner and manager Ray Ashak is a windy city native. I’m fairly certain Ray and Ben Mello, bar manager, were trying to seduce Phil and me with amazing food and drink porn: Ray brought out seared tuna, caprese salad, and crab cakes so decadent you had to cut them like cake, while Ben poured out pomegranate martinis, Manhattans (both restaurant favorites), and mojitos. Mojitos (along with anything blended) usually top the list of most-hated to make cocktails, so any bartender who will willingly make a mojito without so much as an eye roll deserves a firm handshake and a big tip in my opinion.

“Don’t you hate making mojitos?” I asked Bartender Ben. “I don’t hate making anything,” he responded. “I love making cocktails. It can get boring pouring wine and beer all night. I enjoy building drinks.”

Vito’s bar is full of everyone’s favorites; they have the right balance of everyone’s choice poison without the frills. A cut and clean wine list spells out perfectly pair-able bottles for dinner and house sangria — absolutely everything is also offered by the glass, which is a bit of a rare sight.

Reading the menu and looking around the bar, one can’t help but notice all the big local names are heavy in play: Sciabica, Stanislaus Foods, Cold House, Dust Bowl, Gallo, to name a few. “We always try to do fresh here at Vito’s. Fresh opens up your taste buds,” states Ray.

And before I forget, since the last MoBand is hot on our heels, do be sure to inquire about Vito’s Moband special — any two sandwiches, or a pizza off the lunch menu, PLUS a bottle of house wine for $35. Basically a super impressive date spread for you uncreative sorts.

So I am formally inviting you, ModestoView fancy people, to keep skanky July classy with Phil and me at Vito’s Ristorante Bar.
918 13th St.,
Modesto, CA 576.1851



Posted in: featured, food & drink

About the Author:

Kate Serpa does not live in Modesto, CA, nor does she attend court-reporting school. She has not played for the piano for a number of years and she is definitely not excited about helping out at the McHenry Museum. She detests drinking, bar hopping, and late night adventures, and thinks girls who dye their hair red are disgraceful. She has absolutely zero sense of humor and is boring as hell.