Bakery offers fresh bread and beyond

February 17, 2009 1:25:19 PM PST
Bread has been called the staff of life. And for one local company, it is so much more.Labriola is based in southwest suburban Alsip.

Fast-casual bakery-cafes are nothing new in our area but Labriola certainly is. Located in the Oak Brook Promenade, this well-known local brand has been selling wholesale to restaurants and hotels for years. This cafe is their first major retail operation.

"About five years ago we bought a retail pastry bakery, so we added pastries to our lineup more mainstream pastries, brownies, croissants, Danish, things like that," said Richard Labriola.

And make no mistake, there are still plenty of fresh loaves coming out of the oven everyday: rugged ciabatta, wholesome sunflower and crusty tortano, just to name a few.

"We modeled our bakery part after some concepts in France with our bread, starting from about eight in the morning 'till about four in the afternoon, it's coming out in little segments all day long," says Labriola.

That high-quality bread shows up in a number of delicious entrees too: some loaves will hold toothsome meatballs smothered in cheese. Pretzel buns hold two-fisted burgers. And fresh bread always comes with the massive, fresh salads or ingredient-driven daily soups.

One of the other highlights: a wood-burning brick oven, which turns simple pizza dough and fresh ingredients - such as buffalo milk mozzarella - into delicious thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pizzas with just the right amount of char on the crust. And even though milk, sugar and cream aren't standard operating procedure for a bakery, the homemade gelato is absolutely worth a taste; a reminder of the owner's Italian roots.

"We kind of modeled our cafe over what most people do which is, you know, give great service, great food-fresh food...we added details that we would want to see in a restaurant, you know, nice bathrooms, friendly service and fresh food always," says Labriola.

Labriola says there could be more locations in the future but for now, only residents in the Western suburbs are lucky enough to have one of these. And even if you don't live out here, it's certainly worth the drive.

Labriola bread is available at dozens of retail locations throughout Chicagoland, including Indiana and Michigan.

Labriola Bakery and Cafe
OakBrook Promenade
3021 Butterfield Rd., Oak Brook