Italian food is an integral part of Chicago’s culinary environment. Fueled by red wine, dry-aged meats, and freshly made pasta, good Italian food has drifted into nearly every neighborhood in the city, but some of the best is found in Chef John Coletta’s kitchen at Quartino Ristorante.
The son of Italian immigrants, John was groomed to be a chef from a young age. Between his parents’ neighborhood restaurant and summers spent in central and southern Italy, he acquired a deep respect for food and an appreciation for the fundamentals of Italian cooking.
“It was a natural evolution for me to become a chef,” recalls Coletta.
When you visit Quartino in River North, it’s clear his training wasn’t limited to his summers in Italy. His apprenticeships took him through the legendary St. Regis Hotel and Waldorf Astoria Hotel to Louis XV in Monte Carlo. Additionally, Chef Coletta studied under Joel Rubuchon in Paris, and under Three-Star Michelin chefs Pierre Wynants and Pierre Romeyer in Brussles, Belgium.
Since this training, Chef Coletta led a massive 450-cook team at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and an elite culinary team at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.
All of which, brings us to his current place in River North - Quartino Ristorante.
The seasonally driven menu with authentic regional preparations, includes nine house-cured and aged Salumi Artiginale, such as Soppressata, Salamette Pancetta and Duck Prosciutto, along with cheeses made daily in-house. These recipes, some of which are more than 200 years old, come directly from his family and have been handed down through the generations in Italian.
The authentic Italian preparation extends from the salumi section through to the house-made pasta, the Neapolitan pizzas, and the specialty dishes, such as the LaSpianata Romana - hand cut pork shoulder and pork belly blended with traditional fragrant spices from Lazio region of Italy and red wine.
In short, Chef Coletta stayed true to the same culinary philosophy that he has held since the beginning of his career: Prepare Italian food, with Italian passion.
To which we say, thank you Chef Coletta.