Bonta brings a taste of Italy to Lincolnshire
A case with a large variety of cookies at the shop. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Bonta Italian Market and Cafe
430 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire
Updated: April 1, 2013 2:04AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — When Antonella Granito, husband Nunzio Bottiglieri and their young children moved to the suburbs of Chicago from Italy about seven years ago, they couldn’t help but feel that something was missing.
Before she moved to the small Italian town of Salerno—where Bottiglieri is from—years ago, Granito grew up near Harlem and Belmont Avenue in Chicago, where she was able to enjoy many of the same kind of Italian sandwich shops, markets and cafés that she grew fond of whenever she was vacationing in Italy with her parents.
Suburbia didn’t have that, and upon their move back to the U.S., the family found themselves traveling 40 minutes from the suburbs to the city just to find an Italian-style café and sandwich shop that could make them a prosciutto and mozzarella Panini as they waited with a cup of cappuccino.
So in 2011, they opened Bontà Italian Deli and Wine Shop in Lincolnshire.
Bontà, located on 430 Milwaukee Ave., has since grown in popularity and become the community’s neighborhood spot for friends and families to stop in for a quality-made meal that’s still casual. Granito is not exactly sure how to categorize it, but she says it’s an eclectic mix of market, deli, café and wine shop–all elements she and Bottiglieri had grown to know and love of Italy.
“I still have people asking me ‘can we eat in here?’ because it’s got chairs and tables to sit and eat, but then you have the market right next to that,” Granito said.
For about $7, Granito said that one of the best sandwiches for first-time visitors to fall in love with from the deli is Bontà’s Panini made with arugula, parmigiano reggiano, balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing and bresaola, which is a gourmet cured veal that she says is not found in many—or any—other area sandwich shops.
“You can find a $5 sandwich anywhere else, but it’s processed meat that has been pre-cut in a factory before it’s delivered,” Granito said. “We slice all of our meats to order. I don’t want any of my capicola, sopressata or anything else dry when you eat it; you might wait a minute or two, but you will love it.”
Granito said that when she and Bottiglieri opened Bontà in June, 2011, they were hoping that friends, families and individuals from the community would make the café-deli-market hybrid a part of their everyday experience; and they make for a compelling case when one considers the fresh, never-frozen ingredients they use to make all the items on their menu.
Those fresh items on the main menu include several different types of Panini, lasagna, eggplant and zucchini parmigiana, stuffed red peppers, arancini, soup and calzone. While they wait for one or more of their orders to be made, customers enjoy sipping Italian espresso and cappuccino from the café, and later polish everything off with authentic Italian gelato.
Bontà also prepares fresh meals in-house that are refrigerated and ready for customers to cook for themselves or for their families in the comfort of their own homes.
“We are totally family-oriented, and I encourage people to bring their kids so that they can know that there is more to life than mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and grilled cheese…why shouldn’t these kids have a nice prosciutto sandwich, instead?” noted Granito.
In less than two years, Bontà has become the gathering place that Granito and Bottiglieri had originally hoped it would be. Its popularity even earned it a feature on ABC Channel 7’s “190 North,” which features “Chicago’s newest hot spots and hidden gems.”
Today, Granito and Bottiglieri’s regulars come back not only for the food, but also for its Italian classes that are offered from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. every Saturday and its “Cena & Cinema” nights. “Cena & Cinema”—which translates to “dinner and a movie”—is a special evening where diners enjoy dinner and an Italian movie for $15.