April 22, 2021

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Capitanini family has served up Italian delicacies to Chicagoans for generations

4 min read

CHICAGO — The Capitanini family members operates the oldest Italian cafe in Chicago. For just about 94 years, the Italian Village dining places have been serving up Italian delicacies along with recollections and tradition. The Capitanini household is 1 of Chicago’s Incredibly Own.    

“I don’t forget I was 9 or 10 years previous in my very little sailor match and my father experienced to seat buyers and he’d give me the menu and I experienced to go to the table and go out the menus,” Ray Capitanini said.

Ray Capitanini, 85, has fond reminiscences of helping his father Alfredo greet cafe prospects as a child.  

“We’re the to start with to convey manicotti which is a crepe loaded dish with cheese inside the sauce, we ended up the very first to do hen vesuvio, no peas,” Capitanini claimed.

He extra that the dish was most likely on the menu when Ol’ Blue Eyes held his engagement party below.

“Sinatra was right here he experienced his occasion on the key flooring Vivere, we had Luciano Pavarotti,” he stated.

“We’ve had well known men and women come in this article like Neil Diamond or Bon Jovi and it’s not our policy to disclose it but somehow persons obtain out,” Gina Capitanini reported.

Italian Village opened just about a century back, when Alfredo Capitanini migrated listed here from Italy. He came to the usa for a new existence, and to escape the Italian rule underneath Benito Mussolini.

Today there are now a few dining places underneath 1 roof. With the Village being the  oldest Italian cafe in Chicago. It is been on Monroe Avenue in the Loop because the starting for three generations.

“It’s these types of a custom for so quite a few people, just like we are generational, a good deal of people are,” Gina Capitanini said. “I hear the stories all the time.”

One of the tales involves the rumor that Al Capone was a normal in the Tuscan themed eating area.    

“We have names on the booth, convent, la post, put up workplace, and again there ended up supposedly Capone dined it was called la pragione which means the jail. Pretty apropos for him,” Ray Capitanini stated.

In 1955, Alfredo opened La Cantina, a second restaurant a ground beneath. In 1990, grandchildren Al and Aina opened A Vivere on the principal level.  

The 3 eating places provide clients an array of Italian cuisine all less than just one roof.  

“We generally thought if someone walked in the door, they could have a sandwich, a pizza, a chicken vesuvio, a veal or maybe a duck or game, so we seize all individuals various current market segments,” Capitanini explained.

Alfredo Sr. died in 1988 leaving his a few adult kids Frank, Ray and daughter Ave to get the helm.

And currently the 3rd generation of Capitaninis, Gina and Al very own and work the eating places. But ahead of using the reins they had to operate outside the house the cafe to start with.       

“My father desired me to do the job for another person else. I labored for Northern Belief Bank just a block from right here for about a few and a fifty percent many years and finally I was like, ‘OK, have I paid out my dues?” Gina Capitanini explained.

The Capitaninis don’t only serve the general public with their foodstuff, but they spend in the town as properly — their elders taught them that.     

“It started out with my grandparents, they were being major with the LYRIC Opera and the symphony and all the different cultural institutions then we kind of geared it toward individuals in need to have,” Capitanini explained.

While they assistance quite a few charities by means of their grandparents foundation, their major charity occasion is the yearly Ferrari Competition with proceeds supporting Lurie Children’s Healthcare facility.

“The reason we type of commenced it with Children’s Memorial was when my son was born he was pretty ill and he was at Children’s for about two weeks,” Gina Capitanini reported. “It’s dear to my heart.”

Like most little corporations, the Italian Village restaurants have taken a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it hasn’t kept them from relocating ahead, having the up coming generation completely ready to acquire about. 

“It’s unquestionably been complicated, tense you know? but we intend to continue to be and we intend to retain the italian village going,” Gina Capitanini reported.

At this time the Village restaurant is open as we emerge from COVID-19. They hope to open up the remaining restaurants very soon.

The Village
71 W. Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60603

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