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Chef's Choice: Vito Racanelli, Onesto Pizza and Trattoria

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Robin Wheeler
Vito Racanelli of Onesto Pizza & Trattoria
Vito Racanelli, owner and chef of Onesto Pizza and Trattoria (website), comes by his food roots honestly. Born in New York City to parents from Bari and Calabria, he moved with his family to St. Louis when he was thirteen years old.

The Racanellis brought a lot of Old World ways with them: "I didn't have peanut butter and jelly and things like that. Breakfast at my house was a couple of raw egg yolks beat with sugar. More of a European fare, and that's what we were raised on. Most kids' lunch bags were Oscar Meyer bologna and cheese. Mine was olives and eggplant Parmigiana. I was the kid who had the brown lunch bag that was stained with olive oil."

Despite his family's success with Racanelli's New York Pizzeria (website), which is operated by Vito's brother, John, Vito opted to go a different route. "Onesto means 'honest' in Italian. I guess I'm going to have to get back to my roots and really go that way. So I started visiting the farmers' markets to see what was out there. It just inspired me. It's something I wanted to do."

While Racanelli and I talk in Onesto's dining room, he stops to place an order with Kim Vogel of Eilerman Brothers Orchard, who stopped by with her truck of fresh produce. "I know her husband. I laugh with her children. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way now."

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