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Our Story

It's All About Family at Sainato's at Rivergate!

The Antonio and Immaculata Sainato family suffered through the Nazi occupation of Italy, ducking bombs and living in caves. They cheered as American and Canadian soldiers liberated them.


Even more joyous was the welcome the family received from gracious Americans when we they found their way to Cleveland through Canada in the post-war years, with the help of Uncle Eddie Ratajczak, an Army tank driver from Slavic Village.


I am Lester Firstenberger, one of 22 first cousin descendants of Antonio (Nonno) and Immaculata (Nonna) who have truly lived the American dream. I purchased the restaurant from the original owner, beloved Uncle Louie Sainato in July 2017.


Let me tell you about the Sainato family and why we designed every aspect of our restaurant to reflect our family's passion for life. Antonio, our Nonno, was a skilled tradesman, in Italy, Canada and eventually America. He also was an expert winemaker whose vintages warmed the family at every Christmas and Easter family gathering.


So, you can be sure the wines at Sainatos are special!


Immaculata, my grandmother or Nonna, was exacting about things. Once, as she was preparing to sail to Canada, she stood guard over the family's possessions on the dock, even as the captain of the ship prodded her to board. She was so steadfast, the captain finally relented and had the luggage hauled aboard the ship while she watched.


She was just as stubborn for quality produce when she shopped at the West Side Market.


So, you can be sure we pay attention to every detail at Sainatos!


We also know a thing or two about creating a warm and welcoming ambience. We should. As a family, we ate and drank, watched football and argued together.

Nickel dime seven stud poker was our game of choice. At 10, I could play with the elders - and they really took me to school while Nonno would smoke his White Owls and table talk in broken English.  Nothing has changed today, except, of course, the White Owls and other tobacco products are history.


Want to learn more? Well stop by, pull up a chair and let's enjoy some pasta and vino together!

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