Cooking warms Pescatore Palace owner’s heart
Vito Barbanente at Pescatore Palace in Franklin Park. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:12AM
FRANKLIN PARK — For owner Vito Barbanente of Pescatore Palace, cooking means much more than to the average person.
“Cooking, to me, is something beyond the passion,” he said. “It’s like a great friend that warms the heart and spirit.”
This love for cooking led Barbanente to open up Pescatore, 3400 N. River Road, in 1976.
Barbanente was born in Mola di Bari, Italy and came to the United States when he was 16. He started out small in the restaurant business and worked his way up.
“I came to America on a Saturday and started working as a dish washer on Sunday,” Barbanente said. “I used to watch the cook and write down recipes. When the chef quit, I filled in.”
After working as a chef, Barbanente studied at Triton College and started his own restaurant. Most of Barbanente’s recipes come from his uncle, his grandmother and mother.
Originally Barbanente wanted to name his restaurant “The Italian Fishermen.” But, another restaurant had taken that name. A lawyer suggested using the Italian translation, Pescatore.
Barbanente orders his ingredients twice a week. Pescatore is known for its seafood, such as its fried and grilled calamari.
“We have the best calamari in town,” Barbanente said.
Pescatore also serves pastas, meats, an assortment of seafood and pizza. Barbanente is most proud of the Pasta Bocelli.
“Every time Andrea Bocelli is in town, he eats at Pescatore,” Barbanente said. “One day, he asked me make him something.”
Barbanente made Bocelli a dish that consisted of seafood and pasta. The singer loved it so much that Barbanente named the dish after him and serves it to him every time he’s in town.
Donna Falbo has been a loyal customer of Pescatore Palace for 30 years.
“For the past 30 years, my family and I have eaten at Pescatore every Christmas Eve,” she said. “Vito is always very nice. Pescatore serves all of the traditional Christmas Eve fish. Their food is delicious.”
Barbanente also contributes back to the community by donating to Relay for Life in Franklin Park each summer.