That’s Italian for “eat up, eat well.” The salutation you’ll often hear from Michael Viviano as he greets customers at either of Viviano’s Festa Italiano locations, in Chesterfield and Fenton. The festive atmosphere of those locations is reminiscent of his family’s legendary grocery on The Hill.
“I came up with the name, Viviano’s Festa Italiano, because of the old family grocery on The Hill. It always had a festive atmosphere,” Michael explained. “People would come from all over to shop for Italian products and enjoy our heritage and hospitality. It was a different experience, and we all worked to make our customers feel like family.
“That’s what I wanted to create here, and we have. We will celebrate 16 years in Fenton this November and just celebrated 12 years in Chesterfield, which we marked with a grand reopening in June.”
Just as Michael wanted, Viviano’s is an Italian festival of food and drink where you can eat, sip, shop and relax. Customers are encouraged to enjoy the ambience and savor their meals and conversation. On the shelves and in the deli and freezer cases, they find domestic and imported gourmet specialties and trademark items such as Volpi and Boar’s Head meats, olives, pastas, cheeses, wines and fresh baked bread from The Hill. Those are the same items used to create the gourmet café’s menu, which includes Viviano’s’ signature red sauce.
“Our red sauce is as close as we can get to what our grandmother made on Sunday afternoons,” Michael said. “It was different than the sauces she made the rest of the week. It tasted amazing. She would never give us the full recipe but gave us something close. It took 22 times of making it to try to get it right.”
Grandma Viviano would approve of the delightfully rich, sweetly spiced sauce that is used for the café’s cooked-to-order pizza and pastas and as the dipping sauce for its Toasted Ravioli. Complete the picture with Viviano’s’ original chopped salad, a mix of lettuce, artichokes, salami, hearts of palm, Fontinella cheese and parmesan tossed with house-made dressing. Or choose from one of the other delicious salads that share space on the menu boards with soups, pastas and sandwiches.
Currently, Michael said Viviano’s’ top selling trifecta is the:
• Viviano’s Special comprised of Genoa salami, ham, roast beef, Provel cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoncini and Viviano’s Special Sauce on crusty French Bread
• Festa Italiano, hot roast beef basted in garlic sauce and topped with Provel cheese
• Tortellini in cream sauce tossed with prosciutto, peas and mushrooms and topped with Asiago and Parmesan cheese.
All great picks. But wait, there’s more.
“We expanded the Chesterfield menu,” Michael said. “We’re now doing a few burgers and adding other items like calamari and gluten-free options. We also jazzed the place up with a little different ambiance and atmosphere. We have a bartender and full table service and live music almost every weekend. Just call and check on the times and who is playing.”
Live music and karaoke also are featured at the Fenton location, with table service being planned to roll out in late fall.
Both locations offer catering, gift certificates and customizable gift baskets. It’s another one of those special touches Viviano’s does to make its customers smile.