Charlie Gitto’s Rising Star – Anthony Gitto
ST LOUIS, MO: (STLRestaurant.News) Charlie Gitto’s Rising Star – Anthony Gitto: Lights, Camera, Action! At 25 years old you could say that, Anthony Gitto is already sitting “on top of The Hill.” The son of Charlie Gitto, Jr., recently made his film career debut starring in Parade Magazine’s new television show, “What America Eats.” When Parade Magazine came calling on the Gitto’s, Anthony had no idea he’d be telling the world all about the best toasted ravioli. His dad said it was time he got a little face time, and Anthony was more than up to the challenge. Turns out, in front of the camera, he’s quite a natural.
And it was easy to talk about toasted ravioli, the extremely popular signature St. Louis dish. It was created in 1947, in the kitchen of Charlie Gitto’s On the Hill, called Angelo’s at the time, when a chef accidentally dropped ravioli in hot oil instead of water. At the time, Anthony’s grandfather, Charlie Gitto, Sr. served as maitre d’. The scrumptious, homemade, breaded, deep-fried appetizer has been taking the country by storm ever since.
During the first day of the two day shoot, Anthony talked all about the origin of toasted ravioli and the basics of what goes in it. Of course, he was a bit vague, as not to give away too many secrets of the Gitto’s sacred recipe. On day two, he actually got down to business showing the crew exactly how they’re made. And for those who don’t realize it, Charlie Gitto’s Toasted Ravioli’s are made with lots of love.
Forget the press, they hand roll the dough, hand cut each one with a pastry cutter, stuff them, and then dip them in their signature homemade breading. He and the girls in the back make a great team, and they’d better, since they sell more than 10,000 a week. They recently got a large request from the The Bud Light Convention at The Pageant for 5,500: 2000 cheese and the rest, their classic meat.
Anthony says, “It’s a never ending learning process, you’re always learning something,” but then, he learned from the best. He has an incredible teacher in his father Charlie Gitto, Jr., who himself worked at Angelo’s as a young boy. His dad was brought up with the belief that if you want something, you have to work for it. He’d always wanted to buy the building and make it his own. So when it went up for sale, without hesitation, he did just that. The restaurant opened as Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill at 5226 Shaw Avenue in 1981.
Since that time, he’s added two more locations, Charlie Gitto’s from the Hill in Chesterfield, and Charlie Gitto’s at Hollywood Casino. Don’t confuse them with Charlie Gitto’s Downtown, his father, Charlie, Sr.’s restaurant, which is a totally separate entity with an entirely different menu. To this day, Charlie, Jr., remains very hands on. Anthony believes his father’s success is due to the passion he has for his business, along with his loyalty to his staff, and his desire to keep them happy. A few have been with him for close to 30 years, and have watched Anthony grow up from wearing diapers into the man he is today. Anthony, “recalls being a 5 year old”, sitting at one particular table trying to master the art of thinly slicing bread and saying, “Hey Dad! Look at this.” And his dad would say, “That’s really cool.”
Anthony is the youngest of four. He has a brother and sister that live in Chicago, and a sister, Suzanne Gitto, that like him, has grown up in the business. She manages the Chesterfield location, and has one of the best-selling pasta dishes, the Pasta Suzanne, named after her. Their mother, who Anthony calls the “unsung hero,” is also involved in the business, helping with decorating and making sure things are running smoothly at all three locations.
Most of Anthony’s own learning has been done on the hill, although he has worked at the other two locations. And yes, he says, he did start out washing dishes, learning the old-Italian way, from the bottom up. Even though his dad rules with tough love, he believes it’s really helped both he and Suzanne learn a lot. He didn’t have to attend culinary school because the hands-on experience served him better. He’s also well aware that you need to be able to wear different hats, and from the look of things, Anthony is managing that just fine.
His latest venture is managing the CG Pasta Products, which began in 2014, while he was at Mizzou, earning a degree in hospitality, food and beverage. He finished his last classes online, so he could come back early and work at the restaurant…overseeing the line of CG Products they sell to all three Gitto’s locations within the company. They make their own bread every day, pasta’s and ravioli’s for all the restaurants every other day, and lots of desserts, like their decadent tiramisu, and their delicious chocolate, red velvet, and Italian cream cakes.
It can be a huge task because they’re making so much for all the other locations, and Anthony says that in a moment’s notice, they have to be ready with inventory. He says, “When you’re baking 500 loaves of bread, and numerous cakes, you’re on a real time schedule with not much room for error.” But once again, he’s up for the challenge. He’d already had experience on the line cooking at all the different stations.
Each location makes their Gelato. On the Hill those flavors are pistachio, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cherry. In Chesterfield, there are even more extravagant flavors.
The new 8 to 5 pm hours work well for Anthony, putting him on the same schedule as Kate, his girlfriend of more than two and a half years. She’s a civil engineer, who also works for her father.
Ever since he can remember, he’s been trying to make his dad proud of him, and he speaks for his sister, as well. It didn’t really strike him until high school when he realized that one day, this would be all be his and his sister’s. He says, “They are not only in this for themselves and to protect their father’s hard work, but more importantly, they’re doing it to make him happy and make him proud.” And he says he feels like they’re definitely doing something right.
The ultimate goal one day is for him and sister to be able to take over for his dad–whenever that time comes. Suzanne handles front of the house matters, while he takes care of things in the back, and if either has questions, they go to each other. Being from such a close-knit family has served this brother/sister duo well. But for now, this young rising star, plans to work hard, learn as much as he can, and follow his dad’s one golden rule. Anthony says, “My dad always says, read, read, read, you’ve always got to read about what’s happening.” And with that learning tool, Anthony plans to reach for the moon.
- Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill, 5226 Shaw Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110. Phone (314) 772-8898 – Hours: Sun 4 pm-9 pm, Mon-Thu 5 pm-10 pm & Fri-Sat 5 pm-11 pm
- Charlie Gitto’s from The Hill, 15525 Olive, Chesterfield, MO. Phone (636) 536-2199 – Hours: Sun 4 pm to 11 pm, Mon – Thur 11 am to 10 pm & Sat 4 pm to 11 pm
- Charlie Gitto’s At Hollywood Casino, 777 Casino Center Drive at Hollywood Casino, Maryland Heights, MO 63043. Phone (314) 770-7663 – Sun 4:30 to 9 pm, Mon – Thur 4:30 pm to 10 pm, Fri – Sat 4:30 to 11 pm
- CG Pasta Products – Phone (314) 772-8898
- Website: https://www.charliegittos.com