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‘Little acre’ produces a bonanza for Gioacchino’s

If you’ve ever dined at Gioacchino’s Restaurant in Bellwood, you know what good old-fashioned, made-from-scratch Italian cooking tastes like.

During the summer months, many of the ingredients in Gioacchino’s time-honored recipes are literally homegrown in the garden that surrounds the house in Addison where Nella and Jack Curatolo have lived for 43 years.

While Nella is the undisputed queen of the kitchen at Gioacchino’s, Jack is the acknowledged king of the family garden. He only has a “little acre” to work with, but oh, what a bounty it yields.

Among the vegetables you’ll find are beefsteak, cherry, plum and heart tomatoes; Melrose, cayenne, finger, bell and banana peppers; orecchio and Romaine lettuce; chicory; escarole; arugula; cucumbers; and zucchini. Herbs include basil, sage, oregano, mint, rosemary, garlic, and red and green onions. And you’ll never see a single weed, because Jack is a perfectionist with a family reputation to uphold.

His father was a farmer and a butcher in Calabria, and Jack brings those skills to bear on behalf of his restaurant throughout the year.

With a level of commitment to freshness like that, praise was sure to follow. Gioacchino’s was voted No. 1 in the western suburbs for its stuffed, pan and thick pizzas; lasagna; spaghetti sauce; and panzarotti in a Chicago Tribune survey of 98 restaurants. And Sun-Times dining critic Pat Bruno rated the spaghetti and meatballs the best in the area.

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