Recently I stopped at restaurant that I have driven by many times. I was surprised by the feeling of comfort and nurturing that I encountered as I ate my meal and met the friendly, warm people, and it got me thinking….
Family owned and run restaurants are becoming a luxury of the past. At Viro’s they actively try to create the atmosphere of Sicily here in Tucson. This includes the family embracing its patrons.
Vito and Rose have been in the food business in Tucson since 1985 when they opened a bakery on Speedway and Swan, and as the business grew they moved to Broadway and Old Spanish Trail. Their current location is at 8301 E 22nd St.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the arrangement of the restaurant. There are glass casings that surround a small dining area that is casual and quaint. Vito stated the glass casings came from Sicily and that his goal was to “bring Sicily to Tucson.” That is just what he and his family have done with the help of their front room manger Robert.
In fact, they have done such a great job that when you walk in, you feel as though you are walking into a family-home dining experience. They are kindhearted and greet you with smiles and warmth. They ensure that your dining experience is what you want, not what they want.
Ginny Roos, a regular that eats there at least once a week if not twice said, “We’ve been to the most expensive places, and this is by far the best place. The food is fresh, it’s healthy and you tell them what you want and they will do just as you say.”
Let’s be honest, that doesn’t happen very often. This restaurant is not a chain and clearly does everything a chain restaurant does not. Each dish is cooked individually and precisely the way you ordered it, if you want roasted garlic rather than plain garlic, so be it; that is what you will get! You will also receive it at a price that you can afford because Vito and his wife Rose want to make authentic dining affordable.
How do they please every person that walks in? Why does the Italian club meet there monthly, and why are people so happy when they walk out? Vito says, “I’m an authentic Italian, I try to cook like my mother taught me.” You can see his pride as he looks over at his family and his wife Rose, who does most of the baking. “We try to make our own unique things that are different and introduce them to people.”
I have been there at least six times in the past three weeks. Each time, I have eaten excellent Italian dishes, the best homemade mozzarella cheese that I have ever tasted, and gelato, that Vito makes himself, and I have to admit I am addicted to. One of the best treats was a cannoli, made fresh for me, and I know it is an old saying, but if my mouth had legs it would have danced all night.
Viro’s is retro in the fact that it has been around for some time now, but what makes it more of a blast from the past is the family comfort and atmosphere they give you when you enter their Sicilian haven. People who eat there are friendly as well, and each time I have been there I have spoken to total strangers as if they were my neighbor.
Although I don’t write many restaurant articles like I used to, my visits to Viro’s have inspired me to venture out into Tucson’s culinary classics again. Please visit Viro’s in person or check out their webpage at http://www.virosbakery.com/
If you would like to see more restaurants that have been in business 20 years or more, drop me a line and a suggestion.
In the meantime, I think I am going to head over to Viro’s and order a nice Italian meatball sandwich with a piece of Rose’s cheesecake on the side. Hope to see you all there….