Vescio’s expands to downtown

The family-owned restaurant has been in Dinkytown for over 50 years.

The Vescio’s Trattoria   will be opening soon in the Minneapolis Skyway in the Quebec Six building.  The Dinkytown Vescio’s location has been family operated for more than 50 years.

Ian Larson

The Vescio’s Trattoria will be opening soon in the Minneapolis Skyway in the Quebec Six building. The Dinkytown Vescio’s location has been family operated for more than 50 years.

Tara Bannow

Little has changed since VescioâÄôs Italian Restaurant opened in Dinkytown more than 50 years ago. âÄúWhen I make a recipe, I look at the sheet my grandpa wrote out,âÄù manager Tony Vescio said. Grandpa Vescio must have done something right, because the Dinkytown landmark is now expanding into Downtown. In a couple of weeks, the new location, VescioâÄôs Trattoria, will make its debut in the skyway of the Six Quebec building, where it will compete for the fast-paced professional crowd alongside âÄúon-the-goâÄù places like Taco JohnâÄôs and My Burger. âÄúIt seems like more and more opportunities are available doing that type of a design,âÄù Vescio said. âÄúWe just thought weâÄôd go down there and give it a try.âÄù The menu will differ slightly, offering cheaper lunch portions that people eat there or take back to their offices. Cold salads and sandwiches will be prepared ahead of time, and the restaurantâÄôs staple pastas and hot sandwiches will stick around. âÄúWeâÄôre going to go in there and find out for ourselves what sells best,âÄù Vescio said. Eventually, VescioâÄôs Trattoria will offer catering to the office buildings nearby, manager Fred Vescio âÄî Tony VescioâÄôs uncle âÄî said. âÄúEverything will still be homemade, handmade, just like at our other restaurants,âÄù Fred Vescio said. The addition of VescioâÄôs will make the Six QuebecâÄôs skyway-level food court even more competitive, Larry Abdo, the buildingâÄôs owner, said. âÄúNobody has a stronger total food mix than this building,âÄù he said. If things go well downtown, the family might try their luck in other locations, such as strip-malls, Tony Vescio said. âÄúItâÄôs a family endeavor,âÄù Fred Vescio said, âÄúand weâÄôll hopefully be using this as a prototype for future expansion.âÄù From growing to serving Long before entering the restaurant business, the Vescio family had a stake in a different trade âÄî groceries. Frank Vescio, Tony VescioâÄôs dad and owner of the Dinkytown location, remembers his familyâÄôs old grocery store in Northeast Minneapolis. His dad, Charles Vescio, owned the grocery store, which sold traditional Italian foods such as sauce, pasta and pizza. The family started out renting the Dinkytown space when it became available in 1956. The dishes they offered were born from the recipes Frank VescioâÄôs grandparents brought over from Italy âÄî the same recipes used today. âÄúPeople come back 20, 30 years later, and they say âÄògeez the food hasnâÄôt changed a bit,âÄô âÄù Frank Vescio said. Having been a farmer for years and a cook in the Army and Navy, Charles Vescio was driven by a steadfast passion for food. âÄúMy dadâÄôs been in the food business from the growing of the product to the selling of it to the serving of it,âÄù Frank Vescio said. Over the years, the family has expanded the restaurantâÄôs dining area, purchased the building and opened a new location in St. Louis Park. They also run a booth at the State Fair every summer. âÄúThe whole familyâÄôs worked in the restaurant over the years,âÄù Frank Vescio said. âÄúMy dad, mother, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins âÄî the whole Vescio family.âÄù A reputation for tradition With University of Minnesota memorabilia covering the walls, it is clear that the Vescio family enjoys being a part of the college neighborhood, Skott Johnson, president of the Dinkytown Business Association, said. âÄúItâÄôs got the touch of an Italian Tuscany village,âÄù he said. âÄúYet, it still has Minnesota Gophers pictures on the wall.âÄù The restaurant has become a tradition for alumni, and people come back to eat at VescioâÄôs long after they graduate, Johnson said. VescioâÄôs has a strong reputation, said Abdo, who has known Frank Vescio for 40 years. VescioâÄôs Trattoria will occupy the space that formerly held Café di Napoli. Before Café di Napoli closed, it was the oldest Italian restaurant in the state, Abdo said. âÄúSo now I guess theyâÄôre the oldest,âÄù he said. Over the years, VescioâÄôs has had staff members who stuck around for decades. There have been waitresses who worked there for 20 to 30 years and a cook for more than 40, Frank Vescio said. The close, personal relationships between the staff and customers made for a âÄúfamily-likeâÄù business, he said. Even now, after some of the longtime waitresses have retired, people still come in and ask about them, Frank Vescio said. âÄúWe were all pretty close,âÄù he said. Throughout the decades, a lot of places have come and gone in Dinkytown, but VescioâÄôs has stuck around for more than 50 years, Tony Vescio said. âÄúI donâÄôt know about 50 more, he said. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt get any easier.âÄù