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Fate and Family

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Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante.
Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante.

While fate is thick in Italian folklore and family is the background of Italian culture, both had a hand in the story you’re about to read. I assigned our intern Cara Bailey to do a story on Vito’s Ristorante last winter. I thought the place was the most under-rated Italian restaurant in town. So forward Cara went, got the story done, but we had trouble getting photos lined up at the time.

Then I assigned the story to summer intern Daniel Puma. Daniel is Italian but grew up in Tulsa and lives in Norman, so I thought he’d love the assignment. He did. He even shot his own photographs, and took Cara’s story and added a few more details. Alas, we never found a good moment to run the story during the summer, and patiently awaited its turn in publication purgatory.

In September, I determined the time had come. I spiffed up Daniel and Cara’s work then ventured to put the photos where page designers could use them. Turns out the photos had been deleted. The story slumped its nonexistent head and dragged itself back to it’s home on the shelf.

Then October arrived — Italian Heritage Month. I assigned a photograph and made it a point to be there when the photos were taken to talk with owner Cathy Cummings to see if any further details needed addition. The story in my possession depicted how family served as the foundation of Cathy’s restaurant.

I went by to attend the long-awaited photo shoot, and in talking with her, it became apparent her story of growing up in a family that survived by serving food to others was accurate but not so much unique as cultural. So much so, that I decided to write my own story. Sorry Cara and Daniel. Them’s the breaks. You know I appreciate you both.

The Italian community in Kansas City where Cathy was reared is apparent on every plate at and permeates the air at Vito’s, a simple, traditional Italian cafe. She carries more than 100 wines, all of which are Italian. Sauces are made from scratch and breads are baked in house. The only thing she doesn’t do from scratch is the pasta, which would be a logistical nightmare for someone who sees her job as no different than having folks to her home for dinner each night.

I’ve eaten at Vito’s a dozen times and have never left within 10 blocks of dissatisfied. Cathy makes her sugo from a recipe she learned as a child. That explains why it exudes such confidence for such a simple sauce. I could go through a loaf of bread sopping it up. Wait, maybe I did. The “Italian butter” that comes with the bread is hard to resist even after the loaf disappears. The chicken marsala is rich, succulent and soul-soothing.

Vito’s has been around six years now, and the time has come for it to join the ranks with local Italian favorites like Papa Dio’s, Trattoria il Centro, Victoria’s, and Caffe Pranzo.

Have you been to Vito’s? Let me know what you thought.

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 Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante.

Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante.

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-972444b61381e3f44e7c96254cc848c8.jpg" alt="Photo - Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante. " title=" Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante. "><figcaption> Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante. </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-972444b61381e3f44e7c96254cc848c8.jpg" alt="Photo - Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante. " title=" Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante. "><figcaption> Cathy Cummings, owner/chef of Vito's Ristorante. </figcaption></figure>
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