TOW-Vito Di Maria.jpeg

Vito Di Maria

You could say Vito Di Maria knows a thing or two about being a successful waiter.

For 29 years he has worked in the nation’s finest, most-exclusive restaurants, waiting on everyone from celebrities, to difficult customers, surprising guests, and beloved regulars.

He’s seen it all.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Sicilian immigrants, he alternates his work life between Florida and North Carolina each year.

Every May he heads to Lake Toxaway to “work the season” through November as a server at the popular “Osteria del Monte” restaurant in Lake Toxaway.

While he‘s here, he’s a well-liked favorite with locals.

Diners who are lucky enough to book a reservation in advance and request him as server, get to spend time with this colorful character.

When the season ends each year, he returns to Florida to work the winter at a restaurant nearer to his other home.

He recently took time out to share stories of his life, work and the craziness he’s seen along the way.

With the season so busy, how many days off do you get?

Two days a month.

Is Osteria having staffing issues like other restaurants?

No, because they provide housing for all the workers. If people had to pay rent here or didn’t have place to stay, the restaurant wouldn’t survive.

We’d be closed. There’d be no workers.

Speaking for myself, if I had to pay rent, I probably wouldn’t be here.

Why do you think they keep asking you back each season?

I’m a good worker. I show up. I don’t steal and I get along with my co-workers. Plus, I make ’em a lot of money.

What’s the biggest tip you’ve ever gotten?

$1,000. This customer found out that we pool tips (all tips are combined and then distributed equally among wait staff), so he tipped 15-20% on the bill and then handed me $1000. I loved that! (laughing).

What did you do with the money?

That same night I went to a friend’s house and she needed to borrow a couple of bucks, so I lent it to her.

Have you ever received a “non-monetary” tip?

Yeah, a three-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale. I was waiting on these two older guys and we hit it off and they were like, “Do you want to come out with us on the boat?”

I played it off and laughed, and they asked, “Who’s your manager?”

So, I brought my manager over to the table. They gave him $500 and said, “Vito’s done for the night and he’s taking the next couple days off.” Next thing I know, I’m on this yacht and you can imagine the rest. (laughing)

There was a half dozen models on the boat. They were like, “She’s off limits, she’s off limits, she’s off limits, and we don’t care whatever else you do.”

Three days later I got dropped off by limousine back at work.

Have you ever had to kick anyone out of a restaurant?

Yeah, not often though. If they’re rude, or beyond rude, or nasty, I’ll take the menu out of their hand and ask ‘em to get out. Pretty blunt. As long as I’ve been doing this though, It hasn’t happened often. Just a couple of times. I had a table the other night and they were real nasty and I just picked up their glasses and I said “I’m going to get you another table, you’re going to have to move. I can’t wait on you tonight.”

What’s the weirdest thing a customer has ever asked for?

A blueberry slurpee and to sleep with their wife.

So, can you tell when people are at the restaurant cheating on their spouses?

Absolutely, you can tell by the way they act.

Any do’s and don’ts you want to share to other aspiring waiters?

Never say “Congrats on being pregnant” (they could be overweight) and never ask, “Would you like the same as your father?”

Have you waited on any celebrities?

Oh yeah, Michael Jackson, Don King, Dan Marino, Robin Givens, Adam Sandler, Cliff Williams and others.

Of all the celebs, do you have a favorite?

I went out with Robin Givens and her friend one night. We went club hopping and she was on my arm and we were dancing together. That was pretty cool. She was pretty awesome.

What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?

My first language is Sicilian. I was born here, but all we spoke at home was Sicilian. My mother still doesn’t speak English, even after being in this country 65 years.

What’s one thing you miss from your childhood?

Milking the cows and making fresh ricotta in Sicily. We used to go back every summer. My uncle took over my dad’s cow farm after he came to America. They used to get me up at like 4 a.m., and my father would start a fire and I would shovel cow poop.

And then in an hour or so when the ricotta was ready, we would sit on rocks and dip bread into the hot ricotta and watch the sun come up. Back then I didn’t appreciate it. Now I would pay a million dollars to do that one more time.

Have you been back to Sicily as an adult?

Yeah, I’ve got most of my family over there.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A fireman

What was your first job ever?

Working in my family’s deli at age 13. We lived upstairs and I was running the whole thing by myself (doing the ordering and everything).

What’s the nicest thing that has happened to you in the past three months?

A random customer gave me a neck tie. I always wear a red sparkly bow tie and a female customer told me, “I’m gonna get you something better.” And she came in with a white tie with sparkles on it. I put it on, and got so many compliments. Every day I get two or three compliments on it.

Do you have any side hustles?

Selling bottles of “Keep America Great” vodka in Florida.

What do people assume about you, based on your accent?

That I’m in the mob, and I’m from New York.

If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be?

Derek Jeter, my favorite baseball player

Are you a good dancer?

No, only when I’m drunk.

What’s your best dance move?

I don’t have a best move. (laughing) I just shake the body and wave the arms.

What’s the naughtiest thing you ever did as a child?

I set the town on fire playing with matches in a hay field and then ran.

What’s a skill you have that surprises most people?

I can wiggle my ears.

Do you have anything you would really like to sell?

No. My body, maybe? (laughing)

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Yeah, it’s happened a couple of times (years ago). You can just feel it. I was with one for three years and another one for three years. I haven’t given up on it happening again. If it happens, it happens, you know what I’m saying?

What celebrity do people say you look like?

Rodney Dangerfield and Andrew Dice Clay

Who believed in you when you were young?

My mom

When was the last time you cried?

Recently. My mom is sick.

Ann Sharpsteen is a local Brevard realtor with Sterling Real Estate Partners and founder of the “I Love Brevard” blog. She can be reached at 828-606-2141 and online at

Trending Video

Recommended for you