When it comes to writing this column, I am sometimes at a loss for a topic and then, I receive a gift of buona fortuna. That’s what happened this month.
On a Wednesday, my buddy Ed Wolak and I decided to try out the $8.95 Italian Feast Buffet at Carlo Lorenzetti’s. On the following Sunday, I was invited by my friend Johnny Aver to be a guest at the annual Treschè Conca San Luigi Gonzaga luncheon at Lorenzetti’s. The next Tuesday was the last Tuesday of the month, which most every Roselandite knows is Spaghetti-O’s Tuesday at Lorenzetti’s. That was when I slapped my forehead in realization that I’d never written about Lorenzetti’s.
Every time I drive down 111th from Michigan Avenue I look over at the building at 128 E. 111th Street where their Roseland location was. It was right next to what in 1965, became the combined Eugene Galassini and Company at 134 E. 111th.
My buddy Ed grew up in Munster, Indiana and got attached to Roseland in short order. Ed spent many years working on a roving repair crew for METRA and when they sought out a lunch meal, he got to visit more Roseland restaurants than born Roselandites. He’s now a regular Spaghetti-O at Lorenzetti’s and has joined the growing number of diners who find Lorenzetti’s just what their looking for in a good old Italian style meal.
Our usual Spaghetti-O waitresses, Barb and Joan make sure that we’re always taken care of. Whenever I’ve dined at Lorenzetti’s I find that the service is as excellent as we are accustomed to on Spaghetti-O’s night, no matter who our server is.
At our most recent Spaghetti-Os Lorenzetti’s visit there were two surprise visitors. One was Claudia Corriero Hawkins of Crestwood, who Joe and Eleanor Calderone realized was a distant cousin of Joes. The other great surprise was a visit from Beverly Carli’s Fenger High school friend and Raleigh, North Carolina resident, Pat Rieu Huzinga. There were a number of former classmates that were totally surprised to see Pat.
For many of us Spaghetti-O’s, including Dennis Panozzo, Pete Guglielmi, Roz Wojtas, Ed Wolak, and Jim and Diane Ostarello the conversations begun at the last Tuesday of the month buffet meeting continue in Lorenzetti’s bar area. Whenever, I walk through that bar area, I not only see people sitting in the booths and dining, but people also dining at the bar — it’s that comfortable an experience.
Besides Spaghetti-Os, there are a number of groups that hold their meetings at Lorenzetti’s: Lion’s Club, Park Forest Kiwanis, South Downers (Sherlock Holmes), Rotary Club, and Bridge Group.
When I’ve talked with any of my Pullman neighbors about Lorenzetti’s, the old-timers are more than happy to tell me of their visits to the original restaurant. Since its Roseland days, Lorenzetti’s has expanded to three present day locations: Carlo’s in Chicago Heights, Gourmet Pizza by Carlo in Flossmoor, and Livio’s in St. Johns. The same good food and care that was served up in Roseland, is served to this day in each of the establishments.
Along with that same standard comes the Roselandites and Pullmanites you can run into at any time you dine in one of their restaurants. The flag of Roseland’s memory flies high at any Lorenzetti family restaurant and holding it up are those longtime customers that started out at the original restaurant on 111th — be they the adult customers or the children of their customers.
Johnny Aver, Secretary of the Treschè Conca Society, invited me to join the group for their annual luncheon after the celebration of Mass in honor of the town of Treschè Conca’s patron San Luigi Gonzaga. To my surprise the luncheon would be at Lorenzetti’s for my second visit within a week. Peter Panozzo, President of the society, Danilo and Susan Panozzo, Gloria Hudoba, and many Panozzo acquaintances of mine welcomed me to the luncheon.
I was surprised to see how many people I knew, but then again I went to St. Anthony’s School with a lot of Panozzos. Also, in many of the organizations I belong to and many of the events I attend there are always Panozzos in attendance. Not to mention Kensington’s most well-known Panozzos: Larry and Dennis and their wives Nettie and Marie, respectively.
I’ve come to realize that Lorenzetti’s is a living part of Roseland’s history that we can still touch base with. Just by coincidence, I’ve twice run into my brother Augie and his significant other Cathy, at Lorenzetti’s on a Tuesday. From what I’ve seen at the Tuesday buffet, there are a lot of people that make it a weekly event. You can tell that’s a fact because as everyone walks to their table, they throw around hellos like dollar bills. There’s no telling how many Roselandites I’d run into if I made it a point to attend the Wednesday, Italian Buffet.
Today, with its three locations operated by Carlo’s sons Jim and Buddy and daughter Carla the family carries on, not only the traditions of the family, but also the recipes. One of their longest term employees and an anchor for Carlo from his beginnings with the restaurant in 1975 is Marty Corona who started in 1975 and has been “the” cook for decades.
Recently, Lorenzetti’s in Chicago Heights at 560 West 14th Street had some remodeling work done. These changes made the restaurant handicap accessible which is a good thing for its older clientele. The changes also made for a more open room, making waiting on the tables easier for the servers and for more efficient delivery of food orders.
Lorenzetti’s has long ago made its mark on Roseland and has now made its mark on the surrounding communities and towns. Any conversation about eating out in Roseland — we didn’t actually call it “dining out” in Roseland — leads to mention of those two unique Kensington restaurants: Pesavento’s and Parise’s. But, if you were talking about getting something to eat while on the “Ave.” (Michigan Ave.), you would be talking about Lorenzetti’s and we’re still talking about Lorenzetti’s.
Contact me at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756; or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit Roseland Roundtable on Facebook.