Welcome to Florida, it’s been waitin’ for you.
The storied, no-frills Italian restaurant Emilio’s Ballato in New York City is known for hosting top celebrity clientele — including recent A-list patron Taylor Swift.
The pop star dined at the family-owned hotspot with Blake Lively, Sophie Turner and Brittany Mahomes in September amid the “Game of Thrones” star’s high-profile divorce and custody battle with Joe Jonas, who had raved about Ballato just two months prior.
And now, the famed eatery’s executive chef, Anthony Vitolo, has partnered with Miami hospitality guru Rob Crosoli to open his new eponymous Italian joint in South Florida: Vitolo.
The cozy yet elevated restaurant, located inside the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel, opens its doors Tuesday night.
“It’s going to be the same food, but I’m bringing more seafood dishes there because everyone likes seafood and it’s on the beach,” Vitolo tells Page Six exclusively. “But I’m basically keeping it classic Italian. I’m staying true to myself, staying true to my family and all my family recipes.”
Vitolo says he wants a place where everyone is welcome.
“We’re just trying to create an experience for all our customers in the area,” he shares, adding, “It doesn’t matter if you’re Joe Shmoe or a celebrity.”
Crosoli also has a vision of “building a long-lasting relationship with the community.”
“We want to be approachable, and we want to be welcoming to everybody because everybody deserves that type of dining experience,” he tells Page Six. “We’re just two regular guys who are very family-oriented, and we want to bring a little of that to the Fort Lauderdale community.”
Their new restaurant offers a three-pronged dining experience. The first room is Vitolo’s “Cucina,” which features a “chef’s table”-style environment; the second is the “Sala Arco,” an art deco-inspired supper club lounge; and the third is the outdoor “Terrazza,” which offers al fresco dinners overlooking stunning ocean views.
While Emilio’s Ballato is known for its impossible-to-get-into back room where stars like Rihanna, Lenny Kravitz and Jon Bon Jovi have casually dined, Vitolo offers a private dining room with a similar atmosphere that is more inclusive.
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“Yes, we do have an exclusive back room, but you’re just going to have to see that for yourself,” Vitolo teases before clarifying, “It’s not going to be exclusive. It’s just an upscale backroom where you can enjoy your food and have our exclusive wine list and all our drinks.”
Fortunately for Big Apple-based diners, Vitolo isn’t leaving his post at his Soho spot and plans on traveling back and forth to oversee both kitchens.
“I have my family’s support, so I’m going to be at both locations,” he says. “It’s just that I created such a great team here at Ballato’s in the kitchen that I don’t have to be here 24/7, so it’s kind of me just expanding my brand as a chef and just giving Florida the type of cuisine that they need.”
As for the must-have item on the menu, both Vitolo and Crosoli agree that their favorite dish is none other than the Vitello Antonio, which is also offered on the New York menu.
“It’s a 16-ounce veal chop, and I pound it thin, panko-crusted, I fry it, I put it in vodka sauce with peas, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and I crisp it on top in the broiler,” Vitolo explains. “It’s on the bone as well.”
“It’s just spectacular,” Crosoli agrees.
Unlike walk-in-only Emilio’s Ballato — which often sees diners lining up around the block to snag a table — its Floridian counterpart will take reservations.
Vitolo is open Sundays to Thursdays from 5 to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m.