Traditional Italian with a Modern Twist
For almost 12 years, Grioli’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria has been delighting the Bealeton community and beyond, with homemade Italian dishes from recipes passed down from generation to generation. For owner Vinny Vitale, the path towards learning the art of cooking for and owning a restaurant has been a lifelong process.
It’s been a fun journey, he says, from learning to cook in childhood and observing his father who immigrated to the U.S. from Sicily in 1969 and opened his first restaurant in the ‘70s. “It had a powerful influence on me,” he says. Even at a young age he could see the advantages of being your own boss, and the level of freedom and open opportunities that would be available to him on that path.
Vitale holds fond memories of weekends spent in his father’s restaurant, often working the cash register from as young as eight or nine. At age 12, he moved to the dish pit (dishwashing station), and then continued to grow and learn and worked his way into the kitchen. Fresh out of college, he began working for his father as Director of Operations for a small chain of restaurants. “When you work for your father, the elevator to success is short,” Vitale jokes, explaining that he soon had the desire to go independent.
When asked how Bealeton became home to Grioli’s, Vitale laughs, saying, “I’m not really sure.” He recalls driving through the area when his father commented this would be a good spot for a restaurant. “We have been blessed to be here for this many years. We love the community and the area and the people have been so good to us,” Vitale says.
Vitale’s great-grandfather and great-grandmother, who were dairy farmers in Sicily, are the inspiration behind the restaurant and the name. On the menu, they are listed at Mr. G, and Mrs. G. or Nonna G. Grioli’s brings family recipes from both sides of Vitale’s family to customers who frequent this family-friendly, casual spot. “Traditional Italian dishes with a modern day twist” is how Vitale describes the menu. Sauces are made from scratch, and the bread and pizza dough are homemade fresh daily. “We love to cook and entertain and we make sure each dish reflects that,” says Vitale.
Appetizers include Mrs. G’s famous deep-fried potatoes, wings, mozzarella sticks, bruschetta, and the Tuscan chicken lettuce wraps which gained fame after a win at “Taste of Fauquier.” Among traditional pizza choices like Hawaiian and Bianca are The Godfather, topped with pepperoni, ground chuck, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and black olives, and the Chicken Diablo, covered with creamy bleu cheese, chunks of tender chicken breast rolled in diablo sauce, and a blend of Italian cheeses.
One of Grioli’s signature entrees is the Stuffed Chicken Gorgonzola, which is a chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto and gorgonzola cheese, coated in Italian bread crumbs and fresh mushrooms and pan-seared to perfection in lemon butter wine. Diners can also fill up on Parmigiana, Nonna G’s Scampi, Sicilian Crusted Tilapia, or Grioli’s Sirloin.
Pasta lovers can rejoice in the many choices like Tortelloni Campagna, which are pasta pouches stuffed with cheese, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, and chunks of Italian sausage tossed in a creamy red pepper sauce, or the Pasta Pescatore which features jumbo shrimp, scallops, mussels, and fresh mushrooms tossed in a creamy alfredo or spicy marinara sauce and served over linguine.
Lighter options feature paninis and wraps and a list entitled Mr. G’s sub shop. Options range from the Bistro Burger to Philly Chicken or Steak, to Chicken Parmigiano Sub. There are also salads and calzones but the dessert menu is not to be overlooked. Creme Brulee, Gelato, Chocolate Lava Cake, Tiramisu, and New York Cheesecake will tempt you to make room for a treat.
The ability to create delectable Italian dishes isn’t the only family trait passed down through generations. Influenced by his great uncle who was a winemaker in Sicily, Vitale created a private label wine made in the old school tradition, bottled by Molon Lave Vineyards in Warrenton. Enjoyed with one of Grioli’s unique dishes, it is appreciated by many.
It seems as though Vitale’s childhood experiences have come full circle. Now married with three children, ages 8, 6, and 3, the rest of the family enjoys visiting Grioli’s from time to time and his oldest loves to host and greet customers. This hidden gem in the southern end of the county is a place where families gather, children are a blessing, and customers are treated like family.