In 1995, Antonella Granito was contacted by her credit card company. She had one month to use her airline points or she was going to lose them. Granito decided to take a two-week trip to Italy to visit her father’s family. It was on this trip to Campagna, Salerno, that she met her future husband, Nunzio Bottiglieri.
“It was love at first sight,” says Granito. “After a two-week vacation, I came back to Chicago, took a leave of absence from my job with the Department of Children and Family Services and moved to Italy. We were married in 1997 and our two girls were born in Salerno.”
Bottiglieri worked in construction while Granito was raising their children. Wanting to relocate to Chicago, they made the move in 2004 and Bottiglieri continued in construction while Granito worked in education. After living with Granito’s parents for a year, they saved enough money to buy a home in Mundelein.
“We missed Italy and there was nowhere to shop for Italian goods near our house,” reminisces Granito. “My husband and I wanted to open an Italian store but just didn’t have the money to start a business, so we continued on with our lives.”
In June of 2011, their life changed. Granito and Bottiglieri opened the doors to their dream — Bontà market was open for business.
“We wanted to do this for so long, we said, ‘Let’s just go for it,'” Granito recalls. “We figured, if it works, great. If not, at least we tried.”
It is now their life.
“Nunzio is here at 6 o’clock every morning cooking and I come here after I take care of the girls at home,” describes Granito. “He works about 100 hours a week while I put in 80 hours. There’s something gratifying about putting in the work and watching something grow.”
“Bontà is a great name. It means delicious, good quality, abundance,” Granito notes. “I wanted a word that describes what we were trying to provide, an authentic Italian experience.”
Bontà enjoys a thriving lunch business. Known for its panini, the market sees a good share of repeat business. Customers are loyal due to the freshness of the food served. Granito and Bottiglieri cook throughout the day, preparing baked entrées, soups, salads and other specialties. Everything in the store takes you back to Italy. In fact, 90 percent of what they sell is imported from Italy.
“Sometimes things happen for a reason,” Granito reminisces. “Years ago, my miles were about to expire. Had I redeemed my miles for some other destination, we wouldn’t be living our dream today.”
Bontà Italian Market is located at 430 Milwaukee Ave. in Lincolnshire. For details, call 847-361-7451 or visit www.bontamarket.com.