There’s something to be said for doing things the way they’ve always been done. It’s more than consistency or tradition; it’s a way to honor what works and what’s right. In our case, it’s the very core of what makes Vickers Restaurant what it is—a local stalwart dedicated to exceptional service and timeless cuisine.
It all springs from our owner, Arturo Burigatto, who brought a lifetime of gracious food, wine and service to Chester County in 1972. Born and raised in the bucolic outskirts of Venice, Italy, Arturo’s cultural values are still present in the way we source the finest food, prepare it with skill and care, offer an unparalleled wine cellar and impart enjoyment to our valued customers.
Arturo’s journey to Exton took him the world over and infused in him a love of real food, wonderful wines and fine entertaining. His career started at the famed Hotel Danieli in Venice’s city center and went through Zurich, the Pomme d’Or Hotel in St. Helier in the Channel Islands, the Savoy Hotel in London and the pink sands of The Princess Hotel in Bermuda.
“Europe was truly my guide to this idea of culinary extravagance,” he said. “In Italy, I learned about white glove service. In Switzerland about precision of presentation. In the Channel Islands off the coast of France about fine wines and velvet sauces.”
Thanks to a love story, Arturo’s expertise eventually came to the United States. He met the love of his life and his wife of 39 years (she passed away in 2010), Theresa, in Bermuda, and in 1969 they moved back to Philadelphia to get married. Arturo landed at Le Champignon, a noted French restaurant he managed in the traditional style. In 1971, a client piqued his interest in a small farmhouse about 35 miles west of the city. He and Theresa took the drive to Exton and when Arturo saw it, memories of his old farmhouse in Italy came flooding back. To him, it felt like home.
And so the circa 1823 farmhouse became home to one of Chester County’s most popular restaurants. Aptly named Vickers after the original owner, potter and abolitionist John Vickers, it opened on May 17, 1972. Arturo’s gorgeous restorations plus the addition of a fourth room, a bar and a small kitchen, coupled with European-influenced service and French cuisine, were an instant sensation: there was a three-month wait list for Friday and Saturday evenings.
“Not many people had seen steaks flambéed tableside or knew that spinach could fresh and be served raw as a salad. It didn’t have to come out of the freezer,” Arturo reminisced.
A hallmark from day one has been our tableside service. Many of the same dishes from our original menu have stood the test of time, including our wildly popular Steak Diane Flambé, Dover Sole and Bananas Foster. Arturo relished the opportunity to do what he does best and what he loves: fine service, outstanding cuisine and true entertaining. Forty-four years later, he continues to do so. He doesn’t care for fleeting trends or what “experts” may say; it’s risky, but he’s true to himself and what he knows works, and that authenticity translates into something our customers know they can count on—and enjoy. “Today, people often aren’t dining; they’re eating,” Arturo explained. “People want it fast. That’s not who we are. There are always special occasions to get dressed up, to take the time to savor a meal and your company. There is always a reason to have a superior fine dining experience.”
It’s not that we never consider menu changes: we do offer a lighter menu in the bar and on our patio that features Kobe beef sliders, steak frites, lighter pastas and shared plates. We’ve also taken to heart how to make the butter-heavy French sauces that were popular back in the day a bit lighter, too (don’t worry—there’s still butter!). We see customers’ palates evolve, but that doesn’t mean our core style has to change. Instead, change comes with a Vickers twist to embrace elegance and stay true to our roots. “It’s elegance … updated,” Burigatto likes to say.
Arturo did a brief stint away from Vickers, but it was his desire to continue his signature fine dining that brought him back 9 years later after owning the Kennedy Supplee Mansion in Valley Forge and Primavera Pizza Kitchen in Downingtown. In 1999, Arturo and Theresa sold Vickers so that, after 27 years, he could leave his mark elsewhere. And while both those restaurants did well under his direction, once he sold the Kennedy Supplee in 2004, he really missed fine dining. Primavera was successful, but it was a different type of cuisine and clientele—and when Vickers came on the market in 2008, he bought it back.
“My wife used to joke that I was itching to get back into my suit,” he added. The reality is that he missed the fine plating, the velvety sauces, the unique ingredients like North Dakota bison and Burgundy snails. But mostly, he missed the creativity that comes with creating a dining experience for guests. “It’s not just the food,” Arturo explains. “It’s the candles and the fireplace, the flowers on the table, the starched linens, the way you decant an excellent bottle of wine. We plan everything very specifically from the second you make your reservation. This is what real service is.”
And with that, on November 12, 2008, Vickers was restored once again to its classic glory. If our walls could talk, they’d tell stories of a young couple in their thirties staying up all night polishing the floors for the 1972 opening. They’d share the tale of four kids—all girls—playing on the grounds at their second home and enjoying Dad’s freshly made breakfast on Saturday mornings while Mom filled vases with fresh flowers. Those same 15-year-olds all grew to help out as coat-checkers. There are memories of happy couples getting engaged and celebrating milestone anniversaries. We remember small, intimate weddings and personalized corporate events. And we’ll never forget famous guests like astronaut George Driver “Pinky” Nelson, Oscar-winning actor David Niven, musicians Hall & Oates, actor Harrison Ford and, most famously, former U.S. President Richard Nixon with daughter and son-in-law Julie and David Eisenhower. (Fun fact: Hannah Milhous Nixon was the great-great granddaughter of Martha Vickers Milhous, John Vickers’ sister.)
“As much a part of our history is Mike Buono, our maitre d’ and manager since the beginning,” Arturo added. “When we’re on the floor together, it’s like magic. You’ll still see him on Saturdays and at special occasions.”
And continuing with the true family business, you’ll find Amanda Burigatto Brogan, Arturo and Theresa’s youngest daughter, behind the scenes at Vickers. As the creative director, Amanda oversees all aspects of the brand. From event planning and wedding execution to menu design and cocktail invention, she is responsible for preserving the integrity and authenticity of all things Vickers.
“It’s in my blood,” she says. “I’m so lucky and grateful to have the chance to work with my parents and to bring my experiences and knowledge to a place that means so very much to our family.”
Amanda’s career started in New York at Hearst Magazines, where she planned events and programs for prestigious beauty and fashion brands like Estee Lauder, MAC and Chanel. “There is an enormous amount of global experience here at Vickers and we love the opportunities to pass that know-how on to our clients and their events,” says Amanda.
For more than four decades, Arturo has dedicated his life to Vickers and the Chester County restaurant industry with one goal: to provide exceptional experiences to his customers. Trends come and go, but old world panache mixed with updated elegance never goes out of style. You can rely on us for what we are—Vickers stands as a landmark in history and a hallmark of authentically fine cuisine.
“At Vickers, we love to entertain,” he said. “Whether it is for a simple dinner or a wedding or a birthday party, we will always give the same outstanding service and fantastic food that you have come to expect. Isn’t life about enjoying? That’s what I think, and that’s why I created a restaurant focused on the good things in life: delectable food, exceptional wine and wonderful company.”
Vickers Restaurant serves traditional Continental cuisine with classic French flair. Indulge in attentive service and outstanding menus in quaint and comfortable surroundings. The same European service is available through our stellar event planning service. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two or a wedding for 150, you can rest assured you’ll enjoy the highest level of care and attention to detail. Join us for happy hour, dinner and live piano on Fridays and Saturdays—we’ve got the area’s most extensive European wine list and excel at vintage cocktails. In season, relax in our outdoor garden for drinks or dinner. Vickers is the perfect spot for fine food, cocktails and entertaining.
Exterior, tableside service, Steak Diane, wine rack and present-day dining room photos credited to Alexandra Whitney Photography.