This October, Oak Park’s Cucina Paradiso is celebrating its 27th birthday — no small feat in the restaurant world. The key to Cucina’s success? Great food and a great community.
Owner Anthony Gambino says the anniversary is really something to be proud of. “For a restaurant to have flourished this long is a story in itself, and we have a real sense of accomplishment and gratitude to our customers.”
Gambino credits Oak Park with much of his restaurant’s success. He treasures his location, and loves being recognized as a true neighborhood restaurant. Over the years, he has watched his clientele grow up. Parents brought young children to dine at Cucina Paradiso, and now those children are adults, bringing their own kids.
“They’re beyond customers,” said Gambino, “They’re family. “Our staff recognizes the regulars. We know what they want to eat, what they drink and where their favorite table is.”
Gambino has made his restaurant an integral part of the Oak Park community from the start. Through hosting local charities for benefits and events and offering the kind of food that keeps customers returning again and again. Gambino notes that the emphasis at Cucina Paradiso has always been on fresh, innovative food. The menu evolves slightly every few weeks and food selections rotate with the season.
Cucina Paradiso keeps its tables full by striking a balance between old favorites and innovative new dishes. Core dishes like customer favorite Rigatoni Bolognese and the Chicken Pistachio have been on the menu from the start and Gambino works to introduce new, contemporary dishes to reflect seasonality and their customer’s evolving palates as well. Expect to find dishes like pumpkin ravioli with brown butter white wine sauce, and crisp sage as well as orecchiette Calabrese with chiles, sausage, and pesto to turn up on the Chef’s Specials menu. These attractive specials join Cucina Paradiso’s timeless repertoire of classic creations like shells country style, chicken pistachio, and San Gennaro pizza.
Raising a glass in a celebratory birthday toast at Cucina Paradiso is an easy task. The well-stocked bar boasts a cocktail list brimming with drinks like a blackberry old fashioned, Sazerac and the Hemingway District Daiquiri. A wide array of martinis including classic gin and vodka offerings as well as innovative creations like the Firefly made with sweet tea vodka, lemonade, black tea, and fresh lemon juice.
As Gambino looks ahead, he promises Cucina will continue to evolve, looking towards restaurant updates and menu changes in the future, but one thing will never change: Cucina Paradiso will always be the hometown favorite for authentic Italian food.
814 North Blvd., Oak Park