Via Vino: Living for Wine and Fine Dining in Frontenac
All in the Michael Del Pietro of family restaurants throughout Missouri, Kansas and Illinois soon.
Each week, the Ladue-Frontenac Patch takes a look at a different business in Ladue or Frontenac. This week, the Business Buzz made a stop in Frontenac to speak with Wine Director and Manager Gus Nanos at Via Vino along Clayton Road in Frontenac.
Gus Nanos, Wine Director Via Vino, Frontenac
Patch: the owner is Michael Del Pietro, and its in the Michael Del Pietro family of restaurants.
Nanos: Yes. He currently owns Sugo’s next door; Babbo’s in Chesterfield; Babbo’s in Columbia, MO., Pazzo’s Pizza in Kirkwood, Tavolo V in the University City Loop and is currently opening two new locations Sugo’s in Overland Park, KS and Edwardsville, IL.
Patch: He seems to be very ambitious in this industry.
Nanos: He is a very brilliant man in my opinion. The entire family grew up in the restaurant business.
Patch: When did you open up in Frontenac.
Nanos: In November of 2012.
Patch: The size of the staff here.
Nanos: At any given time, on the clock, we will have four on the line--back of the house, kitchen; in front the maximum would be one hostess, one bar tender, a maximum of three servers and myself.
Patch: Please describe for us in detail your American/European style menu.
Nanos: Obviously, coming from an Italian background, there is a heavy emphasis on old World items but I like to refer to it as American dining with a heavy Italian influence and French as well. One of our more popular entrees is our Sea bass which comes over a risotto; our current chicken dish is chicken scallopini with house spinach on it with several small plates, not unlike Tapas. Our mainstay is our beef tenderloin and our scallops and we switch out for seasons like our tomato salad and our hot oysters.
Patch: Do you feature a lot of items from Old World Italy, going back hundreds of years.
Nanos: My experience has been a lot originates from old family recipes. Everyone has a sauce, a way to do this or that; a lot of terms of what’s in America is based on the towns they came from in Europe.
Patch: Are ingredients key in the success of a given dish.
Nanos: Absolutely, and we do our best to acquire the finest ingredients we can to put into the dishes we serve.
Patch: Were do you get your provisions.
Nanos: we get our cuts of beef from Kuna Meats; our fish from Bob’s Sea Food in University City.
Patch: Where predominantly do your clientele come from.
Nanos: We have a lot of customers from the neighborhood essentially. Then we have a lot of restaurant-seeking individuals who have heard about us or have heard from us from a friend and they come from all over. The city, the deep county. I have a regular who comes from Northern Missouri who always remembers to pop in when he’s in St. Louis doing business. People who are staying at the (Frontenac) Hilton learn about us while on business trips and will try us out.
Patch: What is the relationship with Sugo’s.
Nanos: Sugo’s, I’m going to say is more traditional Italian fare. We are connected by a hallway and share an owner, otherwise we are separate businesses. We add more of that American-French influence and that’s what makes us different. People come here for the food and the environment. We manage to keep our food affordable.
Patch: What is your dress code.
Nanos: Officially, we are business casual. As long as you don’t come in cut off jean shorts, you are OK.
Patch: What are your seating numbers.
Nanos: Our patio will accommodate four tables and inside we can seat up to 75-80 comfortably.
Patch: What is your personal involvement.
Nanos: Food is an art form and so is wine. I love to go back into the kitchen and watch the chefs prepare different dishes. Sometimes I just annoy them. I love to cook for friends and I enjoy fine dining. I find marrying food with wine fascination, something that can become a career.
I am the wine buyer here and that’s one of my jobs. I love the atmosphere here. I can fill the wine list with wines from every city and every country around the World, but what’s the point? I believe a good wine list should serve the purpose of the restaurant.
We do a lot of events and parties and we will design a menu just around that. I do a lot of wine flights, little situations where a group will come in and have a lot of tastings and I’ll pair wines with that. Its all a very good opportunity to take advantage to create here and hopefully provide a memorable experience for our guests.
Hours of operation: Monday through Thursday, kitchen 5-9 p.m. and the kitchen is open 5-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; closed on Sundays and Mondays. The bar is a little more flexible. We don’t have official bar hours now.
Vino Via: 10427 Clayton Road, phone for reservations: 314-569-0405.