Passionate chef and Oak Park resident Ciro Parlato intends to make his mark on the local culinary scene, but funding issues are slowing his ability to make his dream of opening a delicious restaurant a reality.
âBanks, they’re slamming the door in my face,â Parlato said. âI have everything ready to go. The space, design, business plan and approval of the village.
Parlato aims to open a small Italian restaurant with a strong delivery business in the heart of the pleasant neighborhood. Tucked between Anfora Wine Merchants and Carnivore, Ciro is expected to arrive at 1048 Pleasant St. in the former Serenitea affiliated party hall. He is keenly aware of the vibrant collection of restaurants rooted in the pleasant neighborhood and believes that Ciro will be complementary to others in the area and add to the growing connectivity between business owners.
In an upbeat gesture, Parlato has already hung a sign advertising his eponymous restaurant, even though he is still trying to raise $ 90,000 to meet the capital requirements in order to secure the $ 300,000 SBA loan he needs for. complete construction of the restaurant. A GoFundMe (https://gofund.me/23ce14ce) has been created to help him achieve his goal.
âI literally grew up in a kitchen. My first toys were made with dough, âParlato said. âI lived in a one-room apartment where my grandmother was constantly cooking. She gave me pieces of dough to play with when I was young. One of my earliest memories is the smell of flour and eggs.
Parlato was raised by his maternal grandparents in Corbara, Italy, a small town 10 minutes from Pompeii, in the Campania region of southwestern Italy. The town, with a population of only 2,500, is well known for the cultivation of Corbarino cherry tomatoes valued for their low acidity and high sugar content. Tomatoes are used in a range of Neapolitan dishes, Parlato learned to cook alongside his grandmother and perfected when he entered hospitality school at the age of 14. During his five years at school, he learned the hospitality trade from top to bottom while developing a passion. for regional Italian cuisine and high-end meals. He spent the summers working in various establishments across Campania to broaden his knowledge. Parlato racked up hours cooking in school cafeterias, stylish hotels and laid-back trattorias before a chance encounter in 2012 changed its course.
In Pompeii, Parlato stopped at a cafe for an espresso when he overheard two young men discussing an upcoming trip to Miami.
âI felt something in my gut when I heard the word ‘Miami’ and I knew I had to go make my American dream come true,â Parlato said. “I asked them if I could meet them in Miami and I was on a plane two days later.”
Parlato, who did not speak English, arrived in Miami hopeful and armed with a piece of paper on which his travel agent had written several common phrases and his hotel address. He was immediately struck by “the size of the world” compared to Corbara and felt “like a punch in the stomach” that the United States could give him every chance of achieving his goals. Within 24 hours he had a job in a Miami kitchen and three years later traveled to Chicago where he started working at Carnivore as a butcher and taking private chef gigs around. ‘Oak Park. He also has an “A” tattooed on his forearm to celebrate the associate’s degrees in accounting and business administration that he went on to earn at Triton College.
âThe passion of a chef comes from curiosity,â Parlato said. âI wouldn’t be here today if I wasn’t curious and determined. Now I want to do my own thing with hospitality. In order for me to reach my goal, I need the people of Oak Park to know who I am and understand my dream. I have a lot to give to this community.
Parlato envisions Ciro as a bright and welcoming counter service establishment with a suitable walk-in window for serving coffee and ice cream. Inside, a long dining counter will be the only division between the open kitchen and the customers. In addition to offering on-site cooking classes, Parlato will feature a rotating range of artisanal sandwiches, ready meals and homemade pasta dishes with regional uniqueness and personal connections. He is especially happy to bring his grandmother’s recipes to Oak Park. His baked gnocchi consist of handmade pasta made with potatoes in a thick tomato sauce with ricotta and smoked mozzarella.
âCiro will be a place where everything happens right in front of you,â Parlato said, peering into the empty room. “Oak Park knows what real Italian food is like and I can’t wait to give it to them.”
The passionate chef plans to host pop-up dinners in the New Year in hopes of raising awareness of his food in the community. Follow ciro_oakpark on Instagram to stay up to date.