In a warm family home in Calabria, Italy, young Aldo Vitale grew up amidst artisans and apprenticed in his father’s woodworking shop. Though he developed a craftsman’s skills, he was more deeply influenced by the family’s kitchen, which, true to Italian tradition, was the axis on which the entire house revolved. Upon emigrating to the US in 1961, Vitale enlisted in the army only to end up bounced right back to Italy, this time stationed around Florence and Siena in Tuscany. Heeding his homeland’s obvious role in his destiny, he honed his culinary skills there before returning to Baltimore, where he refined his style in local kitchens before opening Aldo’s Ristorante Italiano.
With a Tuscan wine cellar, crimson-hued library, and airy main dining area tucked inside the shell of two converted brownstones, Aldo’s opulent decor has since earned effusive press acclaim. The New York Times tells patrons they can “expect to be treated like royalty” in the “oh-so-grand atrium dining room,” and _USA Today recommends it for “special occasions, when you want to dress up.” The restaurant’s splendor also bears a personal touch—drawing from his woodworking ancestry, chef Vitale himself carved each piece of elaborate woodwork on display, including the mahogany bar.
Chef Vitale’s background also emerges in his balanced Southern Italian cuisine, which prioritizes subtle harmonies of bold, simple flavors. Local and organic ingredients shine on a menu that evolves regularly to incorporate seasonal truffles and myriad housemade products, helping Aldo’s earn spots on Baltimore magazine’s 2010 and 2012 Best Restaurants lists. Cold antipasto plates draw from a climate-controlled artisanal cheese cave on the premises, and housemade sausage pairs with fresh orecchiette pasta and parmigiano reggiano. For meaty main courses, chefs grill double-cut Prime Wisconsin veal chops as well as prime filet mignon, which they pair with seared foie gras and wild mushrooms.
To ensure an apt pairing with each dish, Chef Vitale stocks his redwood wine cellars with thousands of bottles carefully curated from a blend of prominent wineries and obscure small-batch producers. The resulting wine list comes annotated with tasting notes, Wine Spectator-numerical ratings, and helpful servers that happily recommend or improvise musical numbers about any given bottle.