Naperville is a dining enthusiast’s delight. The plethora of delicious restaurants in Naperville offer a wide range of foods and give residents and visitors alike much to enjoy year-round in both casual and fine dining settings.
Angeli’s is one of Naperville’s hidden jewels. This fine Italian restaurant recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and continues to provide both regulars and “newbies” with delicious Italian cuisine from both the North of Italy and the South. They also cater outside events like weddings and large parties.
Specialties at Angeli’s include veal picatta, pasta and peas in a vodka cream sauce, homemade pizza and, for dessert, non-traditional tiramisu served in a martini glass. Several gluten-free options are always available, as well.
“We cook every meal ‘to order’ and pay lots of attention to detail,” said Tony Angeli, one of Angeli’s three owners. “And 90 percent of the time there is an owner on site who is out in the dining room talking to the customers.”
“You have to have a passion and love for what you are doing or it isn’t going to work in the restaurant business. You will be out of the game because there is stiff competition among restaurants in Naperville,” he said.
The story of this family-owned restaurant’s founding is a fun one.
“The restaurant that preceded us here was called LaNonna’s. I was working there as a waiter in 1985 when I met my wife, Trinette. She walked in to get a job as a waitress and we have been together ever since,” he recalled.
In the mid-1980s Angeli and his two partners, John Taylor and Andey Mastrino, started a concession business called Bojo’s that sold elephant ears at festivals and other outdoor events. After a decade, their summer business had become very lucrative but the trio “wanted a place to hang out” and Angeli had always wanted to own an Italian restaurant. So they bought the former 40-seat LaNonna’s on a lark and just hoped they didn’t lose money.
The opposite happened and Angeli’s became a dining sensation. They have since expanded twice until they now boast over 200 seats when you include their outdoor patio, 48-seat private party room and their gorgeous new bar.
“This has been a dream-come-true and Naperville has been great to work with,” Angeli added. “We now cater 60 to 70 off-site weddings per year plus many other events and we hope to see that side of the business grow even further in the coming years.”
Fogo de Ch‹o Brazilian Steakhouse
Fogo de Ch‹o Brazilian Steakhouse opened its third Chicago area location in Naperville’s Freedom Commons in early 2016. Run by a general manager and head gaucho chef from southern Brazil, it has been enthusiastically received.
Fogo de Ch‹o is an authentic Brazilian Steakhouse (Churrascaria), originally founded in Brazil in 1979. Today, Fogo has locations in world-class cities such as Rio de Janeiro, New York City, Sao Paulo and Mexico City.
Authentic Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs expertly grill and then carve tableside various cuts of meat like picanha (signature sirloin), filet mignon, ribeye, fraldinha (Brazilian sirloin) and cordeiro (lamb). In addition to the fire-roasted meats, the menu includes a gourmet Market Table, Brazilian side dishes, an award-winning wine list, and tempting dessert menu. Guests can also choose to enjoy lighter seafood selections or enjoy the “gourmet Market Table-only” option.
“Since Fogo entered the Chicago market, we planned on expanding into the western suburbs. Naperville has a thriving residential community, strong corporate business presence, expanding hotel market and exciting entertainment options. We believe our unique, Southern Brazilian dining experience is a great addition to this premiere community,” said CEO Larry Johnson.
“There are many ways guests can enjoy Fogo,” he added. “Whether it’s a celebration, important business meeting or cocktails and small plates at Bar Fogo, it will always be a special experience.”
A new restaurant featuring seasonal farm-to-table cuisine with Latin flavors has arrived in downtown Naperville. Delirio opened in late 2015 and it is making its mark on the Naperville dining scene.
Delirio showcases local produce from surrounding Naperville farms including Green Earth Institute located off Knoch Knolls Road. They also pride themselves on scratch-based cooking. Everything is made in the Delirio kitchen by its classically-trained chefs, including award-winning Executive Chef and Naperville native Thomas Eckert. Even Delirio’s sausages and pates are handmade at Delirio.
The menu at Delirio is constantly changing as the produce available locally changes and as Eckert’s experimentation yields wonderful new dishes. But they always have at least three different steak options and five to eight other entrees. In addition, there are usually about 15 different appetizers on the menu and a variety of “smoke and cure” fish boards and charcuterie like prosciutto, salami and sausages. Desserts are entirely made from scratch daily, as well.
“We are all about making and serving delicious food and we are constantly experimenting with new ideas and asking our ‘regulars’ to try them out and give us their honest opinions,” he said.
Eckert has over 18 years restaurant experience. He was trained at Le Cordon Bleu Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. While attending CHIC he was named captain of the 2003 State Champion Culinary Competition Team and upon graduation he accepted the Junior Sous Chef position at Monsoon Restaurant in Chicago.
Next he was invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City. He continued to perfect his culinary skills at some of the best restaurants in the country and chose to debut as Executive Chef at the start-up restaurant, Café 103 in Chicago.
Co-owners Jaime Campos and Luis Guzman are also well-known on the Chicago restaurant circuit.
Residents of the western suburbs, the trio chose to join forces to bring an upscale new fine dining experience to downtown Naperville. It also features The Graffiti Bar which is known for craft beers from local brewers and artisan cocktails created by Naperville’s finest mixologists. There is also a private party room that can accommodate groups large and small.