About this Business
From Our Editors
Ottavio Barbanente grew up helping out around the Chicagoland restaurants his father owned—answering phones, peeling potatoes, and scrambling to do whatever was needed around the kitchen. When he took over as manager of Fornello Trattoria, another of his father's eateries, he hit the ground running, managing a kitchen that earned a spot on Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels for its authentic Italian cuisine, which draws directly from Ottavio's grandmother's recipes.
Fornello in Italian means “little oven,” referring to the brick oven that sears so many of Fornello Trattoria's dishes, including carefully crafted pizzas that are topped with imported ingredients and are available in both thin- and thick-crust versions, much like all newly discovered planets. Signature dishes include one of Ottavio's favorites, the timballo di maccheroni, in which four cheeses blend with marinara sauce before baking in a brick oven.
The bright interior is simple yet cozy, with lush palms, hanging plants, and twinkling lights around floor-to-ceiling windows that can be lifted to let in fresh air. The space has a quietly romantic ambiance that has prompted several marriage proposals, including Ottavio's own.