Vincent Cessna typically arrives at his Italian restaurant, Vincent’s Pastaria, around 5:30 a.m.
“My day starts with (making) 4 gallons of sauce every morning. It’s the lifeblood here. It goes in the lasagna, the meatballs, the pasta dishes,” Cessna said. “My anxiety goes down when the sauce is done, right around 8:30.”
Baking loaves of Italian bread is another part of Cessna’s daily routine at the Pastaria, a booming, mostly carryout venture that opened in January at 3102 Tuscarawas Street W in Canton. Pasta, pizza and hoagies are the staples.
Cessna’s Pastaria was popular at its first two locations, both in Perry Township, but landlord issues and big rent increases forced those to close down prematurely. “This is my happily-ever-after building,” said Cessna, who is purchasing the property. He smiles often these days.
Q. Have you been cooking your whole life?
A. “I distinctly remember being maybe 8 or 9 years old, making raviolis at the drainboard with my mom and my grandma. I remember the dough and letting it sit and hand-forming raviolis. Now it’s automated machines (for making ravioli). If I had a little cafe in Palermo, maybe I’d go back to making it by hand.”
Q. What’s your popular on your menu?
A. “Obviously the fresh pastas. Those are the stars of the show. Those raviolis come off my machine two days before they’re served. I don’t know how much fresher a pasta can be. The homemade gnocchis—they sell like crazy here, too. I’m always amazed which entrees take off. People love these gnocchis and meatballs, fresh bread and a nice crisp salad. I don’t know how you go wrong with that.”
Q. Tell me about the ingredients you use.
A. “You use basic ingredients to make wonderful stuff. Good quality tomatoes, milled semolina and milled durum flour, fresh eggs and a real good extra-virgin olive oil.”
Q. You originally had a pizza shop in North Canton, right?
A. Yes! Cessna’s Pizza, a tiny place with two brick ovens. It was kind of a playtime for me. I was in chef school in ’91, ’92, ’93, and I never thought in a million years I would go back to baking. If you’re a chef, you always have a baker, right? But I reverted back to my baking skills, and I loved that little shop.“
Q. What’s the best part of all this for you?
A. “Just the love of what I do, and being here with family. My dad comes in with his coffee three days a week; we talk, and he works the slicer. My son and daughter are in college now, but they’ll come home on the weekends and help, and they see what dad does and has always done. No one from my family just works here—everyone has their lives and their careers. But they all come in and help, and to me, that’s so gratifying.”