Restaurant News & Reviews

Fresh bread, wedding soup make a blissful marriage

Wintertime lunch doesn’t get much better than a big bowl of hot soup.

And when it does get better, it comes with plenty of fresh house-baked bread and real butter, like at JoVito’s Italian Café.

Italian Wedding Soup is bliss in a bowl, and JoVito’s doesn’t cut any corners on the traditional recipe: house-made chicken stock studded with fresh carrots, celery and onions and redolent of garlic and oregano serves as the savory backdrop to roughly torn leaves of spinach, hand-formed marble-sized meatballs and pasta added at the last minute so it doesn’t get mushy.

The day I ordered mine, I had one of those growling-bear hungers that can be difficult to slay, so I was happy to see three slices of dense, yeasty Italian bread arrive with three pats of real butter. Nothing quiets a growling bear like butter. I happily troweled all the butter on all the bread at once, knowing I wouldn’t leave a crumb behind, and I didn’t.

Best of all, because the soup costs only $3.95, my $5 budget allowed me to splurge on one of the café’s delightful house-made cookies. I choose a fat, pillow-shaped fig cookie that is a regular in the lineup during the holiday season.

The Italian Wedding Soup is not even on the menu — it’s listed on the chalkboard as a special but is offered most days in winter. Call ahead to make sure they have it. Or don’t, because the worst that will happen is you’ll have to settle for a real-deal plate of pasta or an epic sandwich.

That’s because JoVito’s co-owners Beth and Mary (Scaglia) Hart are the niece and sister, respectively, of Mario and Joe Scaglia, who created the original Mario’s grinder at the brothers’ Westport restaurant. The recipe lives on at JoVito’s.

“We are rolling meatballs every day,” Beth Hart says.

Big ones for the grinders and — at least in winter — tiny ones for the soup.

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