Gino Bartucci is no stranger to the food industry. His father, Gino, ran the legendary Gino’s Italian Imports in the family owned Piazza Italia on Harlem Avenue for many years, and his uncle, Tony, has run Pasta Fresh in the same cluster of shops for decades.
Bartucci grew up in both businesses, so it should come as no surprise that he has made a name for himself, not only as the food and beverage director for the Dana Hotel & Spa, but as the new proprietor of BarTucci, which he opened late last year in Piazza Italia with his business partner, Neal Sage.
The Bartucci empire — which includes Gino Sr.’s La Bomboniera and Galleria D’Arte Giuseppe Armani right across the street — has been a magnet for Chicago-area Italian Americans for generations. And now Gino is proud to add his own personal stamp to the family legacy.
“Our dishes are classic Italian with a modern twist,” Bartucci says. “And having a BYOB restaurant makes you feel like family. Guests bring in bottles of wines that they’ve made in their own basement and enjoy a home-cooked meal. I wanted people to walk in the restaurant and feel like they are in a piazza in Italy.”
The menu includes a dazzling array of truly Italian dishes like polpettine di melanzane, casarecce all barbatietola, linguine nere all’aragosta and grigliata mista di carne, with options tailored to those with gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan needs.
Running the kitchen is acclaimed Milanese chef Fiorenza Tasinato, a close family friend who once ran a restaurant in the same space as BarTucci. “She has been cooking with my family in one way or another for over 20 years,” Bartucci notes.
Bartucci is constantly on the go with his new restaurant and his responsibilities at the Dana Hotel, where he has hosted parties sports heroes, dignitaries and celebrities the likes of the Backstreet Boys, R. Kelly, U.S. senators, and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, as well as more than a dozen fundraising events each year for causes such as Nepalese relief and breast cancer research.
He recently returned from Cuba, where he was among the first group of American civilians to be welcomed by the American embassy there in over 50 years. And then there is his involvement with Loyola University School of Law, where he regularly lectures on leadership and entrepreneurship.
His movie-star good looks and his skyrocketing career have earned him most-eligible-bachelor nods from Today’s Chicago Woman and Splash Magazine. But at the end of the day, he wants nothing more than to gather with his family at BarTucci to recharge his batteries.
“This is our home away from home,” he says. “It’s where we share stories, food and laughter.”
Visit bartuccichicago.com for more information or to make reservations.