Just ask Vito and Marianna Moreci and their son and daughter, Pasquale and Rosalia. Working shoulder to shoulder for nearly three decades, they have transformed Roberto’s in Elmhurst from a tiny pizzeria into a bastion of fine Italian dining.
Their saga begins on the northern coast of Sicily, where Vito Moreci and Marianna Bucaro were born and raised. Childhood sweethearts, they were married in Italy before coming to America in search of a better life.
Vito started out in construction, but pursued pizza making at the invitation of a friend. After owning his own place in Bartlett, he set his sights on a tiny pick-up-only pizzeria on Spring Road in Elmhurst.
“It was a small place with not too many items, but it was there for more than 20 years and it had a great reputation,” Vito explains. “We bought the restaurant in 1985 and kept the name, and we’re still friends with the owners today.”
With Vito taking orders and greetings customers and Marianna running the kitchen, Roberto’s was ready to take off. And son Pasquale was with them from the start.
“I was cutting pizza when I was 12, and when I was in high school, I took part in a work program so I could leave school early and work at the pizzeria,” he recounts.
Today, Vito and Marianna greet the customers, daughter Rosalia keeps the books, and Pasquale runs the business, ruling the kitchen and filling in wherever he’s needed.
Roberto’s has come a long way from its humble, hole-in-the-wall beginnings. An expansive 150-seat dining area has a Tuscan charm that’s truly magical, and a 50-seat veranda that opens onto a lovely landscaped park is perfect for al fresco dining when the weather warms up.
The menu has been miraculously transformed, as well. “We started out with a wine list of a dozen bottles and maybe 20 traditional items like pasta all’amatriciana, zuppa di pesce and veal saltimbocca,” Pasquale explains. “Today, we have 275 different wines from California and Italy; nearly two dozen appetizers, soups and salads; and more than four dozen pasta dishes and entrees.”
Customer favorites include garganelli alla romana, featuring a wrapped mostaccioli, pancetta, diced tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, green onions, e.v.o.o., and a splash of brandy; and a marinated and grilled Mediterranean sea bass that’s de-boned at the table and served atop a bed of sautéed spinach and risotto zafferano.
And Roberto’s pizza is still the stuff of legends, topped with a subtle blend of cheeses, embellished with handcrafted sausage and baked fresh daily to a light, flaky finish.
What keeps Roberto’s at the top of its culinary game after all these years? A fierce devotion to quality and an equally deep commitment to the customer.
“Consistency is so important in this business,” Pasquale stresses. “Even when economic times are tough, we work together as a family to keep the quality of our product high. But the real joy comes from being able to host a baby shower for a family one year, and then a wedding reception 20 years later, along with every other special event in between.”
Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria
483 Spring Road
Elmhurst, Ill. 60126