A new Italian restaurant in Oak Park is a labor of love for its Italian-born chef and owner.
Ciro Parlato hails from Corbara, a town near the Amalfi Coast, and moved to the United States in 2012. He first settled in Miami Beach, Florida, without knowing a word of English. He started taking classes at an international school and fell in love with Oak Park through his English teacher and her son, who lived there. “I visited, and I loved Oak Park so much,” says Parlato, who moved to the Chicago suburb in 2016.
He decided to open a restaurant in 2020, and his dream came true three years later with the recent launch of Ciro at 1048 Pleasant St. in Oak Park. The space accommodates seven seats along a kitchen counter. “I didn’t want a sit-down restaurant right away. I wanted a carryout kitchen with a few seats, to embark in the new venture in a manageable way,” he says. “I didn’t want it to be good, I wanted it to be great.”
The small menu features only a handful of dishes, including Pasta al Forno alla Nanella, a tribute to his grandmother, who passed away last year at age 93. It’s made with rigatoni, tomato sauce, small meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, salame napoletano, buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano.
There’s also Polpette nel Sugo (meatballs in San Marzano tomato sauce) and Pasta al Forno Vegetariana. Ciro offers catering orders and sells imported spaghetti, fresh mozzarella, and sparkling and flat water from Italy.