Longtime family friends carefully keep original Vito’s Pizza & Italian Ristorante owner’s recipe for success

Ryan Vickery, Vito's Pizza & Italian Ristorante
Ryan Vickery's family ate at Vito's Pizza & Italian Ristorante about once a month when he was growing up. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Ryan Vickery's family ate at Vito's Pizza & Italian Ristorante about once a month when he was growing up. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The Sunrise Sauce on the Seafood Lasagna ($20.49) is a blend of marinara and Alfredo sauces. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Traditional bruschetta ($9.49) has Roma tomatoes, garlic, basil, onions and balsamic glaze. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
When first-generation Italian immigrant Vito Carrieri started considering stepping away from the restaurant he had run in Mesa for two decades, he had no natural successor. His children were in California and were not interested in returning to take over for their retiring father.

But he did have friends in the restaurant business, namely Ryan and Alexis Vickery. Even before the couple met each other, they came from families who ate regularly at the restaurant. Alexis’ family even had vacationed with the Carrieris.

Ryan did not meet Vito until he had dinner there one night with Alexis’ family, and Vito and his wife, Joanne, sat down with them.

“I was like, ‘Oh wow, we’re having dinner with Vito himself,” Ryan said. “The Vito—super Italian, Italian accent, the Italian stories. His stories from Chicago are hilarious.”

After they married, the Vickerys bought a couple of franchise restaurants, and when Alexis’ mother heard Vito might be interested in retiring, she put out feelers to him that the kids would be interested.

The Vickerys sold the franchises and bought the restaurant. Vito retired in 2009 but as part of the deal, he stayed around a certain amount of time each week for a year or two.

“We didn’t want people to be freaked out like, ‘Oh, Vito’s not here every day anymore. They’re changing stuff,’” Ryan said. “We didn’t want to change anything. You don’t fix what’s not broken. So we kept Vito around.”

Much of the staff stayed. Recipes remained in place, Ryan said.

With a second location in mind, the Vickerys bought land in 2012 in Gilbert, upon which they built the restaurant. They opened in May 2020 to such high demand that they lost some staff in the first week and had managers cooking, Ryan said.

Ryan attributes the success to fresh ingredients, consistent recipes and great customer service, and he is a believer in the Vito’s brand.

“I mean, I grew up always loving it,” he said. “I’m biased, but I think it’s the best.”
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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