Massa Café Italiano co-owner Giovanna Lollino and her chef, husband and business partner Angelo are eager to embrace the return of summer weather and a sense of normalcy at their decades old Italian eatery located at 7434 W. North Ave. in Elmwood Park.
“It is so nice to stand next to a stranger again and not feel uncomfortable,” said Giovanna Lollino. “It is wonderful to see people coming together and creating that important sense of community at Massa. It is natural to want to be near people.”
Café goers are proving her right. They have quickly returned to the summer tradition of patio dining at Massa — the cheery café is a natural gathering place and vibrant destination on Elmwood Park’s bustling restaurant row. On a recent weekday children sat at a table scarfing down Sicilian style pizza next a group of elderly men sipping coffee while ladies sat nearby dining on colorful and healthy salads.
Nothing at the café is frozen or pre-made and the Lollinos prioritize sourcing the freshest ingredients available. In addition to serving up a wide variety of authentic house-made Italian dishes, the quaint eatery peddles 10 distinctive entrée salads. In addition to classic Caprese and Caesar options, Massa offers a colorful Mandalay salad brimming with toasted walnuts, mandarin oranges, strawberries and gorgonzola cheese and tossed in a light raspberry vinaigrette. Massa also enhances the already abundant salad options with weekly specials like a shrimp salad boasting fresh basil and tomatoes on mixed greens dressed with white balsamic vinaigrette.
Any savvy summer diner knows the benefits of selecting a light salad — making a healthy choice means it is that much simpler to leave plenty of room for a summer dessert. Massa’s award-winning gelato and fresh sorbettos are made fresh daily using time-honored Italian techniques. The flavors shift with the growing season, but Chicago Pothole, akin to rocky road is a perennially popular gelato choice while watermelon sorbet is a summer highlight among Massa customers.
Despite the undeniably joyful feeling returning to some sense of normalcy has brought to the café owners, Lollino was quick to point out Massa continued to grow during the pandemic. While things were quieter at the café, Angelo was diligently working on getting Massa’s pizza, gelato and coffee to the masses.
“Our home delivery program and nationwide shipping had been in the works for a while,” said Lollino proudly, “The pandemic brought the idea into focus, and we were able to make it a reality.”
Hungry locals can now visit virovia.net to order a limited array of Massa’s most popular products for local hand delivery in Oak Park and River Forest. Sold by the pint, customers can select from 16 gelato flavors including strawberry cheesecake, caffe macchiato and banana bon. Eight varieties of coffee are available as well as five types of take and bake Sicilian style pizza including spicy soppressata and roasted vegetable varieties. Vero Party boxes, also available for local delivery, are specially curated to combine products. Additionally, Massa’s products are expanding into retail environments and can be shipped nationwide.
Whether you are looking for a sunny sidewalk salad or home-delivered gelato, Massa Café Italiano is prepared to meet your needs.