There is a little Italian Restaurant located on the corner of Main and North St. in Perryville. Galati’s Italian Restaurant is filled with the wonderful aromas of pasta and pizza and other mouthwatering Italian food, happy diners enjoying their meal and each other’s company, and the whole time you will see owners Sal and Vita Galati, serving the customers, visiting with the customers, throwing pizza dough in the air, and making everyone feel right at home in this little slice of Italy in Perryville.
How did Perryville become the home of Galati’s Italian Restaurant? It all began in Italy.
Having just got out of the Italian Navy, Salvatore “Sal” Galati was introduced to Vita DiMaggio through a friend of his, Vita’s cousin. Vita was on vacation with her family for one week in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, Italy. The two ended up writing to each other, and an engagement was the result.
“My uncle in New York was already working on the process of getting my immigration papers ready for me so I could come to the United States, but then I became engaged to Vita,” said Sal.
Sal was on his way to the United States, but to St. Louis instead of New York.
“While in Italy I worked as a machinist,” said Sal. “When I came to the United States in 1974, my future father-in-law asked me, ‘What is it you want to do?’”
Sal was leery of being able to communicate to co-workers, and the precision of all the measuring required for a machinist job.
Sal explained, “I didn’t have the English language mastered.”
So, from March 1974 to the end of the year he learned the restaurant business in Lawrenceville, Ill., in his father-in-law’s restaurant.
Right before Sal and Vita’s wedding, her father opened up a restaurant for them in Flora Ill,. just 20 minutes south of Effingham. They stayed there for several years. In 1988 they made their first visit to Perryville, but were unable to find a location that would fit their needs.
In 1990, they decided to take their family to Italy.
Sal said, “I wanted my children to experience Italy before they grew up. But the economy was not good; no opportunity for a job that I wanted. We decided, let’s leave Italy behind us, and come back to the United States for good.”
They came to Perryville at that time, and they liked what the town had to offer. They were pleased that there were large and small businesses and that people had jobs.
“The catholic school was very important. Vita went to catholic school and she wanted our children to go, too”, said Sal.
They found the location they are currently in. “It was originally a gas station, but when we got it, it was a satellite dish store,” said Sal.
To get the building ready for the restaurant they had to get rid of the service station pit; otherwise, it was pretty easy to fix. In October 1990 Galati’s Italian Restaurant opened for business, and they have always been in this location.
Sal and Vita guarantee every item on their menu.
“When new customers come in and ask what is good, I tell them everything, I guarantee it”, Sal said. “We put in all of our effort to make everything taste good. So far, no one has ever said, ‘I don’t care for this’.”
“The cream sauce and red sauce are all made from scratch – the dough, the balsamic vinaigrette dressing, all from scratch,” Sal and Vita said in unison.
Sal said, “After so many years in business, many of the people who come in to eat really know us. It’s like a family. Everyone knows you, you can go to the store [pointing to Rozier’s] and hear, ‘Hey Sal, how are you?’ It makes you feel welcome.”
Making customers feel welcome is important to Sal and Vita, as their motto is, “Everybody is Family at Galati’s.”
Sal and Vita raised four children, three boys and one girl. The boys live in Cape Girardeau, and their daughter lives in Michigan. They have 11 grandchildren, nine girls and two boys. They are able to see their sons and their families in Cape Girardeau fairly often, but only get to visit with their daughter’s family twice a year.
Sal and Vita close the restaurant twice a year, once to go to Michigan and the other to go on a vacation where, according to Sal, “they can have some fun on the beach”.
Sal and Vita love all their customers. They have their regulars who come from Chester, Jackson, Saint Genevieve, Cape Girardeau, and of course Perryville and all the towns in Perry County.
As Tom Jones was singing in the background, “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone,” the Galati’s glanced at each other, and Sal turned and said, “We are very grateful to the community for the support they have shown us the past 27 years.”
Vita said, “We feel very blessed to be a part of this community and want everyone to know we are eternally grateful for their support.”
Sal came to America from Italy, married a young Italian lady from Saint Louis and together they made a living and raised their family here in Perryville. The Republic-Monitor 2018 Business of the Year has served Perryville for 27 years, and they are looking forward to welcoming and serving families for many more years ahead.