Dating back to 1953, Vito’s is an iconic restaurant and lounge located on First Hill, on the eastern edge of Downtown Seattle. Opened by Vito and Jimmie Santoro, it has a history rich in cocktail culture, live music, politics, and East Coast family-style Italian food. The bar has deteriorated over the years, but the new partners were bent on resurrecting the ghosts of Vito’s past when they revived the bar in 2010, keeping the name in honor of the late Vito Santoro. Under Vito’s ownership when the place opened until 1993, the bar was the place for power brokers and two-martini lunches.
It was the favorite place of the late Senator Warren Magnuson, the Seattle University faculty, doctors, and the growing Italian-American community. Here, deals were struck, city issues negotiated, and bets placed and settled. Visitors can listen to a grand piano in the main lounge, featuring live music five nights a week and highlighting the vast and diverse talent in the Pacific Northwest region. Drinks are old school—three-ingredient cocktails that are dry and bitter. The menu makes little room for the vodka and fruit concoctions that are more in line with the modern, mainstream palate. Vito’s is the place for anyone looking for a couple of rounds of cocktails for a cheap date, live music, and an old-school Italian vibe.
Cover photo courtesy of Vito's