A staple in downtown Muscatine since 1985, Salvatore’s Italian Ristorante by Papa Reno, LLC, has recently undergone some renovations.

Managed and operated by father and son team, Reno and Claudio Vitale, the restaurant was originally named Roma’s Pizza then changed at a later date to the current name. The owners are first-generation Italians, and Reno, at age 79, is still managing and overseeing the cooking and operations nearly every day.

The traditional Italian menu utilizes recipes that were handed down to Reno from his grandmother and mother. This practice continues said Claudio, “My wife has also introduced her family recipes for a great mix of authenticity. My son will be fifth generation, and he cooks just as well as grandpa at the restaurant.”

When asked how Muscatine was chosen for the location to start the business, Claudio replied, “Reno, my father, was wanting to re-establish a family business for his children. Muscatine was a place that amazed him earlier in the 1970’s when he first visited. The river and scenery hit him, but local friendliness made a bigger impact.”

“The community is extremely friendly and loyal,” said Claudio. “We often hear from out-of-town guests that we are a hidden secret in Muscatine. You don’t often find in these times a much more dedicated elder who cooks for you. I hear plenty of times ‘you should open this in our hometown.’  We also hear that our service is above par, even though I think that there is always room to improve. We are human and make mistakes.”

With a new brick exterior and brightened entryway, Claudio said, “We have been planning a renovation for the last two and a-half years. I wanted to give back to our customers in some way. In September, 2015, it finally happened.  We wanted to make the facade look like it did in original times. We also renovated the inside with changes that would make the workflow easier for both employees and guests. We wanted to provide a mixture of a simple, homey, yet upscale ambiance. There were also hidden improvements completed that indirectly make our customer’s experience a better one.”