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Food & Wine

Now that's Italian!: Loyola Corners welcomes new Cafe Vitale

Photo Photos Courtesy Of Tracy Ross Cafe Vitale owners, from left, Kelly Cribbs, Craig Ruybalid, and Tracy and Gary Ross, flank chef Marcelo Mintz, center.

Cafe Vitale, the newest restaurant addition to the Loyola Corners shopping district in Los Altos, specializes in upscale pizzas, salads and soups, served around an Italian theme.

Talk about an evolution.

“When we first thought about this idea, it started as a coffee shop, then it progressed,” said Craig Ruybalid, one of four co-owners of the cafe. The others are Kelly Cribbs, and Gary and Tracy Ross. Marcelo Mintz serves as chef.

The focus of the cafe kept changing as the owners bounced ideas off each other and solicited feedback from potential customers.

They added quality soups and sandwiches to the menu, then pizza. Then …

“We wanted to tie this to health – vitality. ‘Vitale’ directed us to the Italian theme,” Gary Ross said.

Another clear choice was avoiding any duplication of menu items with the eatery next door, the well-established Tom’s Depot.

Despite the changes, the owners did not lose sight of their original goal: offering good food and value while maintaining a casual atmosphere.

“We want this to be a place where families come – (Loyola Corners) is a neighborhood,” Ross said.

But diners won’t get casual food.

“All our doughs are made here,” Ruybalid said. “The salad dressings and soups are made fresh. The pizzas are all gourmet.”

“We went to great extremes to make our sandwiches, salads and pizzas a step above,” Ross added.

Menu items cover all meals of the day, from breakfast (espresso, muffins and oatmeal) to lunch and dinner (spinach and Greek salads, chicken pesto and turkey supreme sandwiches, and a variety of veggie and meat pizzas). For the full menu, visit www.cafevitale.com.

Already, some major favorites are emerging. Ruybalid’s smoked prime rib, which he’s offered as a special on Fridays, has Ross pouring on the superlatives.

“I don’t think there’s a place that touches his prime rib,” he gushed.

The chicken marsala is “crazy,” Ruybalid added, “and the calzones are just out of this world.”

Then, of course, there’s the pizza – thin-crusted, but not cracker-y and burned like some of the competition. Even the gluten-free offerings are flavorful.

“We wanted to get it right,” Ross said. “We’re listening to people, which is important (to improve).”

Cafe Vitale is located at 987 Fremont Ave. Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, open Sundays by special arrangement. For more information, call 559-1500.

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