Eight Chicago-area Italian restaurants certified ‘authentic’ by Italian government

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‘Ospitalità Italiana Seal – Italian Restaurants in the World’ To Be Awarded On Date Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Italy’s Unification


Chicago, IL -Italian cuisine is greater than the sum of its ingredients, as this edible art form is as much about authentic hospitality as about extra-virgin olive oil, exquisite recipes and fine wine. And now, eight Chicago-area restaurants that excel at all these will receive the “Ospitalità Italiana Seal – Italian Retaurants in the World” for their culinary contributions to Italian culture.

And on Thursday, March 17-the day that marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy-the Italian American Chamber of Commerce-Midwest (IACC) will celebrate these culinary honors by awarding certificates to these restaurants and their chefs at an evening event held at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, 1431 W. Taylor St., in Little Italy. Each restaurant will provide its signature dishes for the evening’s event, which begins with cocktails at 6:30 p.m., followed by a sit-down dinner and program at 7:15 p.m. The event is being co-sponsored by the Milan Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International. Admission is $50 for IACC members and $70 for non-members.

Just as events are being staged across the Italian peninsula to celebrate the Risorgimento (the movement that resulted in the establishment of the Italian nation), the IACC will celebrate both this historic day and the awarding of the Ospitalità Italiana seal during one of its regular Networking Events. With specifications determined by Italy’s Istituto Nazionale Ricerche Turistiche (National Institute of Tourist Research), the seal was created in 1997 to develop a high quality of consumer service among restaurants, hotels and agriturismi, or “holiday farmhouses,” across Italy. In order for restaurants worldwide to earn this distinction-one that is voluntary and which requires that the restaurant apply-each had to meet 10 stringent criteria and submit proof of their authenticity.

Among the criteria: each restaurant selected must employ at least one staff member who can speak to guests in Italian; the menus must be written in proper Italian; at least 20 percent of wines offered must be DOP-certified (Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or “Protected Denomination of Origin”); and the head chef must meet requirements of experience and proficiency in Italian cooking. Each restaurant also had to submit descriptions of at least five Italian-tradition recipes, including the Italian region that inspired the ingredients and dishes. The Chicago-area restaurants that will be honored on March 17th are:

  • Spiaggia Restaurant, 980 N. Michigan (Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano)
  • Piccolo Sogno, 464 N. Halsted (Chef/Owner Tony Priolo)
  • Coco Pazzo, 300 W. Hubbard (Executive Chef/Partner Chris Macchia)
  • Merlo on Maple, 16 W. Maple (Chef Luisa Silvia Marani)
  • Tocco, 1266 N. Milwaukee (Chef/Owner Bruno Abate)
  • The Village (at Italian Village), 71 W. Monroe (Executive Chef Robert Trevino)
  • Volare, 201 E. Grand (Chef Massimo Campagnini)
  • Pelago Ristorante, 201 E. Delaware (Chef/Owner Mauro Mafrici,)

“Our goal for this event is to celebrate the Italian nation’s wonderful 150-year history, but also to celebrate some of Chicago’s most outstanding Italian restaurants,” said Fulvio Calcinardi, executive director of the Italian American Chamber of Commerce-Midwest. “These restaurants take tremendous pride in the ingredients used in their dishes, the wine served-and in sharing authentic Italian culture. Our guests will get to enjoy all this, and more. ”

The “Ospitalità Italiana Seal – Italian Restaurants in the World” certification process is ongoing, with Italian restaurants around the world invited to apply or resubmit applications once they meet all 10 of ISNART’s requirements.

“For generations, Americans have had a love affair with Italy and with Italian cuisine,” said Robert Allegrini, president of the IACC-Midwest. “We are very proud to play a role in helping to identify some of Chicagoland’s most authentic Italian restaurants. We are honored that the esteemed chefs from these restaurants will be preparing and serving some of their signature dishes at this 150th birthday event.”

“To taste our food is to taste our history,” says Paula Waters, Chair of the Chicago Sister Cities International Milan Committee. “All of the influences, invaders and blessings of nature that made up the Italian nation a mere 150 years ago are present in our cuisine.”

Italian American Chamber of Commerce – Midwest
The Italian American Chamber of Commerce-Midwest is a business association founded in 1907 to provide services to the Italian business community and to American businesses involved with the Italian market and products. The IACC’s primary goals are promoting its member activities as well as promoting trade relations between Italy and the United States, with a particular focus on the Midwest region. Within North America, the Chicago-based IACC is one of nine Italian Chambers located in the major metropolitan areas in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Milan Committee/Chicago Sister Cities International
The Milan Committee is one of 28 under the umbrella of Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI), which provides leadership to develop, manage, and coordinate comprehensive programs and projects with Chicago’s 28 sister cities. CSCI is committed to promoting Chicago as a global city, developing international partnerships and networks, and sharing best practices on a city-to-city basis.

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