There’s been a transformation on one of the city’s main streets.

A former Taco Bell at 1331 Washington Road is now Vito’s Italian Restaurant, owned and operated by the Conigliaro family from Sicily. Vito Conigliaro, 27, is the owner.

There’s no doubt the 2,700-square-foot building is no longer the home of the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme and Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

“When people come into our restaurant, they say, ‘Wow, this is totally different,” said Conigliaro, who moved to Washington in July from Pennsylvania and opened his business Nov. 1.

The restaurant is different mainly because of Conigliaro’s creativity and hard work. He was his own contractor for the extensive interior and exterior renovations.

“The place now has a rustic Italian feel, with dark wood booths, tables and chairs,” he said.

Conigliaro said he found out about the vacated Taco Bell online, checked it out, and thought it would be a great spot for the first restaurant he owned because of the volume of traffic on Washington Road, also known as U.S. Business Route 24.

He’s very happy to be in Washington.

“People are friendly and the schools and neighborhoods are good,” he said.

Vito’s has brick oven and specialty pizzas, calzones, stromboli, pasta dinners, salads, cold and hot submarine sandwiches, wraps, appetizers, side orders, desserts, beer and wine. There’s also a kids menu.

Tortellini Primavera ($12.99) is a popular dish, Conigliaro said. It’s cheese tortellini with peas, mushrooms and tomatoes in a white Alfredo sauce. Like all pasta dinners, garlic bread and a house salad are included.

Customers also are
ordering a lot of calzones and stromboli, dough shells that come with a variety of fillings.

“We’re the home of calzones,” Conigliaro said.

As for appetizers, bruschetta ($5.99) has been a popular choice. Bruschetta has diced tomatoes, basil, red onions and mozzarella topped with a light balsamic vinaigrette.

Vito’s is open from Tuesday through Sunday each week.

Customers order at a counter from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with lunch specials available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is waiter service after 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and all day Sunday.

The main dining room seats about 70 and there’s a party room that seats about 30.

Food pick-up is available, just like the former restaurant that occupied the building. Parking is plentiful, with 65 spots.

There are 14 employees.

Washington business owner Dennis Hermann has been impressed so far by the new restaurant. He’s eaten there about a half-dozen times.

“Vito has put a lot of sweat equity into the place,” Hermann said. “I think he’s found a nice niche. His pizza and calzones are good and the pasta dinners are priced reasonably.”