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Vitello Liver Napoli at Cafe Napoli

The Vitello Liver Napoli at Cafe Napoli on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. Photo by Cristina Fletes-Boutte, cfletes-boutte@post-dispatch.com

Q • Would Café Napoli share the recipe for liver and onions? Thanks! It’s a longtime family favorite. — Bud Strotheide, Clayton

A • Back in 1970, Tony Pietoso was the first of two brothers to arrive in America from a small town near Naples, Italy. At first, he cut hair by day and worked at John Mineo’s by night. When his brother Fortunato came to visit, Tony shared his dream of opening their own place: Tony in front, Fortunato in the kitchen. Fortunato was unsure, but soon he met the woman who would become his wife.

The rest, as they say, is Napoli history. Café Napoli is a Clayton institution, serving classic Italian food with American-style execution. Today the second generation is in place, Tony’s son Kye runs Napoli and Bar Napoli in Clayton and son Ande runs Napoli2 in Town and Country. Over the years, Napoli has become known for an array of pastas, fish, prime beef and a particular dish, the veal chop.

Executive chef Chip Bates says that although Café Napoli can readily handle a “martini lunch,” it really hustles during lunch service. “Like a duck on water,” he says. “Calm on top but underneath the legs are moving like crazy. It’s not fast food, but we serve lunch fast.” For dinner service, the pace relaxes. “We’re here to serve. We want to offer a relaxing, enjoyable experience.”

Liver is “not for everybody, you know,” Fortunato says with a grin. “But the people who like it, they like it very much. The sauce makes it, it’s a nice rustic Italian dish.” Liver is usually only on Café Napoli’s dinner menu, but now through Dec. 19 it will also be available at lunch.

Special Request is written by Town and Country resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.

Café Napoli

7754 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton

314-863-5731; cafenapoli.com

If you would like to request a recipe, email reciperequest@post-dispatch.com. Include what you like about the dish, your name and where you live.