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Benvenuto a Berwyn

Lights, camera, action, espresso!

Before I begin this story, whaddaya say we get an espresso to set the mood. And I know just the place. It’s a quaint little coffee shop that serves up the finest caffeinated Italian beverages along with authentic Italian (excuse me, Sicilian) pastries. Now let me tell ya, Starbucks it ain’t. Walk into this place and you’ll feel yourself immediately transported back in time. This storefront is more than 80 years old, with its original hardwood floors, oak doors and woodwork, and a copper-colored tin ceiling. The rough plastered walls are adorned with framed album covers of all the great ...

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Joseph Russo realizes his dream

It’s fitting to focus this month’s article on a personal friend of mine who truly needs no introduction in the city of Berwyn or the Chicagoland Italian-American community. My “someone you should know” is community leader and funeral director Joseph Russo, who is realizing a longtime dream of opening of his own funeral chapels. I’ve personally known, trusted and admired Joey for more than 25 years, so I’ll start from the beginning. Throughout our high school years, we were the ultimate Italians (not your Jersey Shore wannabes). We were proud of our heritage and we had to profess it with ...

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Stop and smell the roses!

As a young boy growing up in an urban environment, green space was always hard to come by, especially when our backyard looked like a vineyard and giardino that would make the Green Giant jealous. In the front of the house, we would play “Running Bases,” or get 20 kids from the neighborhood together for “Relievio,” during which we would play hide and seek with a jail set up on my stoop, and hope that the other team didn’t yell “Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free” before the game would be called due to darkness. So when my parents wanted ...

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A brief history of Berwyn

Ber-wyn [bur-win] — noun, a city in NE Illinois that is conveniently located within one mile of two major transportation arteries, the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) to the north and the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) to the south. Berwyn’s northeast edge is less than a mile from Chicago’s western city limits and just minutes from the bustling Loop business and entertainment district. Berwyn has three convenient commuter rail stations, serviced by Metra along the BNSF Railway. Berwyn’s Metra stations provide tremendous customer potential and visibility for local business and offer Berwyn residents’ ready access to area jobs and attractions. Pace bus service ...

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Meet our new columnist!

Mario Manfredini

So I’m sitting in beautiful downtown Berwyn enjoying an espresso when my phone rings. I see it’s Fra Noi editor Paul Basile, so I pick up the phone thinking my Giovanni the Talking Teddy Bear order is ready. Boy, was I wrong. Paul tells me he has an idea for a column about Italian Americans living in the southwest suburbs. I say, “That’s great, Paul. Are you talking Naperville? Lisle?” In a bad Svengoolie accent, he says, “No, Burr-vynnn.” I try to explain that Berwyn isn’t “South Side,” unless we’re talking baseball. And once I straighten him out geographically and ...

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