MUSCATINE, Iowa — In Muscatine, Claudio Vitale is the owner of Salvatore's Pizzeria. People know of the pizzeria's authentic slices of heaven (okay, pizza) and other dishes, but what you might not know is the shop also serves the community in a big way.
"(Vitale) is constantly on a mission to help others," said Sarah Newberry, an employee of Vitale's who nominated him for the Pay It Forward Award. "Often, he will send pizzas or pasta to the hospital for the workers or provide dinner for the homeless shelter here."
We asked her to describe Vitale in one word. She said, "selfless."
Vitale said his giving heart was something he learned from his father who opened Salvatore's Pizza in the early 1990s.
"My father and a lot of experiences in my life that brought me to understand that we are in a great place to live and it's a great world, and every little bit helps," Vitale said.
He said his father got his passion for helping others from his mother, Vitale's grandmother, who passed down many of the pizza recipes they use today. So you could say, good food and good hearts run in the family.
Newberry said Vitale is someone who would give anyone a chance.
"The other day a 14-year-old came and asked me for a job," Vitale said. "The child told me, 'Mr. Vitale, we hear a lot of good things about you and how you help the youngsters and how you help them through school and give them advice.' I don't want young people to make the mistakes I did. I am always there to give people a helping hand."
Vitale said he plans to use the $300 from the Pay It Forward Award to continue to help his employees and community.