LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (WLS) -- There are dozens of chains in Lincolnshire, many of them along Milwaukee Avenue. But there are a few independently-owned mom-and-pops. One of them has been focusing on homemade Italian food the past eight years. More recently, they added a brick-lined pizza oven.
The husband and wife owners used to live in Italy - Salerno, to be exact - and they missed making pizzas in their family's garage oven. So a couple of years ago, they added a brick oven to their newly expanded cafe, increasing their menu options exponentially, and offering the neighborhood a taste of classic Neapolitan pizza.
EXTRA COURSE: Desserts at Bonta
Who doesn't love pizza and pasta? That's what Antonella Granito and her husband, Nunzio thought. Which is why they've been working hard to expand and improve Bonta over the past eight years. Part of that improvement meant adding a pizza oven.
"There really wasn't any wood-fired pizza in this immediate area. I felt like no one knows pizza better than us, especially Nunzio," Granito said.
They top them with all sorts of Italian specialties: large slices of fresh mozzarella, thin sheets of prosciutto or cured Speck with creamy-rich burrata, arugula and tomatoes. The key is that 00 flour and that hot, wood-burning oven, which creates puffy, blistered crusts with a soft chew.
Other favorites include paninis, which are barely pressed on the outside.
"We tried to keep more authentic style panini with prosciutto and fresh mozzarella and arugula," she said. "At lunch it's counter service; our guests order at the counter and then we bring out the food. At dinner time it's table service. We don't do any sandwiches at night."
There are also colorful salads, like kale with winter citrus, and plenty of Italian favorites like arancini; these rice balls are stuffed with a rich bolognese and bits of cheese. There's calamari, first dusted in a seasoned flour and fried until crisp, tossed with fresh herbs, or a mound of seafood, cooked with garlic, featuring shrimp, mussels, clams and calamari.
"Our frutti di mare is just loaded with fresh seafood with fettucine, a light white wine and tomato sauce," Granito said.
Granito's hope is that with all of the chains in the area, locals will continue to support one of the few independent operators, considering they're making pretty much everything from scratch here.
"Some real comfort food in an area that's maybe not expecting comfort food," she said.
430 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire