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SLAINTE AND SALUTO
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY
about the same time the Favaroso brothers were busting through the
cellar walls of the family’s Italian restaurant in New Hope,
Pennsylvania, their sister Theresa was doing her part to assist Michael
Kelly make his way into the world. I don’t know whether or not
construction was completed in time for the celebration of the baptism.
After all, we are talking about family members and friends laboring by
hand to dig out a nineteenth century foundation in order to build the
bar, and that was in-between prepping the antipasti and baking the
lasagna. But by the time my wife and I first discovered Villa Vito,
somewhere around the mid 1990s, there was already this charming little
subterranean hideout where one could retire for perhaps a digestivo or
some other appropriate late night libation.
A GREAT IRISH PUB REQUIRES A FINE SELECTION OF ALES AND BEERS.
quaint walk down pub, the type of place one might expect
to find in a more urban environment, there was a distinct character to
the restaurant that seemed a touch out of sync with the upscale
bohemian avant-garde atmosphere of New Hope. Villa Vito was reminiscent
of the eateries I was accustomed to finding in the older ethnic
neighborhoods of cities like Boston, Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Places
defined not by culinary trends or gastronomic fanatics, but instead by
cooking traditions and generations of family. Places that take us back
to memories of childhood, holidays and those warm rooms filled with
cherished friends and loving relations. If it applies to you, you may want to save your Medifast Coupons and put your diet on hold until you visit Villa Vito because you won't want to miss this delicious fare.
For nearly forty years Villa Vito has brought a slice of Italy to the streets of New Hope, and from my personal perspective the only thing that was missing from the mix in order to make the experience of this extraordinary American community complete would be the addition of an Irish pub. Now it seems the Favaroso family has fulfilled yet another one of life’s dreams; but not without some help from the Kelly side of the equation. Today they proudly celebrate the birth of their Celtic snug. The former basement bistro has been renamed in honor of Theresa’s now eighteen year old son Michael Kelly.
Now there are those who might question the authenticity of an Irish pub at this particular location; but then again we should probably be a wee bit skeptical of all similar assertions on this side of the Atlantic. Because if the truth be told, what we have on this side of the ocean are American pubs attempting to propagate Irish culture in the context of a tavern. And since that’s too much of a mouthful, it’s just easier to refer to the practice as opening an Irish pub. So I think that it is only fair that we establish a proper set of benchmarks that can be used to validate whether or not a pub could lay claim to an Irish pedigree. And since this author is suitably versed in the finer points of tavern life, I will award such credentials based upon the following measures:
· The pub is welcoming.
· The hosts are hospitable.
· Strangers are treated like friends.
· There is good conversation and perhaps a bit of music.
· There are interesting characters sitting at the bar.
· There is a warming fire (optional).
· There is a great selection of beer with at least one stout.
· The choice whiskeys of Erin are well represented (Jameson, Bushmills,
Tullamore Dew etc.).
· At one time or another at least one person with the last name of Kelly
has been in the place.
Based upon this strict criterion, I know where I will be raising my first pint on Saint Patrick’s Day. And as the Favaroso-Kelly clan likes to say, “Buona Fortuna and Cead Mile Failte" – “Good Luck and A Hundred Thousand Welcomes” to Michael Kelly’s Irish Pub!
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