The aperitivo experience is a major aspect of Italian tradition.

Traditionally, an Italian aperitivo is actually a pre-meal drink taken as an appetizer. Having an Italian aperitivo has become a common ritual where people meet at a bar to partake alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages with small bites of olives, nuts, cheese, crisps and other similar snacks. In the last years it has slowly replaced the whole dinner process, since many bars in Italy offer, during the aperitivo time, buffet Italian food including pasta, pizza, mozzarellas and may other delights!

If you say “Volare” you immediately think of Italy’s most famous worldwide song (whose title “Nel Blu dipinto di Blu” was changed into “Volare” in Dean Martin’s version). It immediately transmits the light heartedness, the fantasy, the irony that are typical of the Italian people and their way of life.

In Chicago, when you say Volare you immediately think of Benny Siddu’s restaurants, that like the mythic 50s song, transport you to the country of the sun, with their delicious regional dishes, their rich Italian wine list (about 350 labels, one of the best in Chicago, topped only by “Benny’s Chop House”, Siddu’s steak house, that contains 2500 labels), their interior design so full of colours, candle sticks, paintings (by famous painter Matt Lamb), give the impression of being in a typical Italian trattoria, simple and elegant at the same time, with the kitchen in plain view, the red brick oven, the Carrara marble bar.

From the small “Trattoria Veneta” in the heart of Little Italy in Chicago (with only 40 seats and always a cue that went all the way outside), where mother used to help in the kitchen, to Executive Chef of the 312 Chicago, in the Chicago Loop (the restaurant together with the adjacent Allegro Hotel, is part of the Kimpton Boutique Hotels & Restaurants).

Luca Corazzina has gone a long way and his dishes have evolved alongside his career: he has always stayed loyal to the Veneto and Italian tradition but with imaginative innovations that made him win the Italian Quality Seal Award, a prize granted to him directly by the Italian Government through the Chicago Chamber of Commerce.

The winner of the “White Guide Global Gastronomy Award”, a kind of Nobel prize for gastronomy awarded every year in Stockholm, is the Italian chef Massimo Bottura.

The prize was awarded to Bottura on the same day in which the film director Paolo Sorrentino won the Oscar for “The Great Beauty”.

In 1995, Massimo Bottura opened the “Osteria La Francescana” in Modena (in the centre-north part of Italy), that obtained the third Michelin star in 2011; this is what can be read in the Michelin Guide about Bottura and his restaurant: