John Coletta, a first generation Italian-American, is a chef, restaurateur, author and respected veteran in the Chicago and International culinary communities. As Executive Chef and Managing Partner of Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, John preserves the authenticity of regional Italian cuisine, through honed culinary techniques and authentic Italian ingredients.
John acquired a deep respect for food and an appreciation for La Vera Cucina Italiana at a very young age. John’s summers spent in central and southern Italy also cultivated his interest in Italian gastronomy and culture. While spending time in Italia, the concept that meals were the most important part of the day made it obvious to John what his career path would be, “It was a natural evolution for me to become a chef,” he recalls.
With an international view of the culinary scene under his belt, it was no surprise that John’s next step was to command a kitchen of his own. Opening Entre Nous and Primavera at the Fairmont Hotel and the acclaimed Caliterra restaurant in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood as Executive Chef, paved the way for his most promising endeavor. In 2004, John embarked on a partnership with co-founders Steve Lombardo and Larry Shane to bring his vision of a classic, urban-Italian ristorante to life. John infused Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar’s seasonally driven menu with authentic regional preparations of rustic Italian recipes – many of which date back 200 years. His preparations of house-cured and aged Salumi, such as Soppressata, Salamette Pancetta and Duck Prosciutto, along with cheeses made daily in-house, are a nod to John’s love and respect for La Vera Cucina Italiana. In short, with the creation of Quartino’s menu, John stayed true to the same culinary philosophy that he has held since the beginning of his career: Prepare Italian food, with Italian passion.
Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar opened its doors in December of 2005, and is now entering its eighth year of showcasing the flavors and traditions of Italia’s most vibrant regions to Chicago diners. Quartino is the recipient of the coveted Ospitalita Italiana, which is awarded by the Italian government and recognizes restaurants, which uphold the traditions of Italian culture. Quartino has been featured in local, national and international publications including; The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Michigan Avenue Magazine, Food Arts, Plate Magazine, National Culinary Review, USA Today Travel, Italia a Tavola and more. John is also a gold medalist in the 1984 Culinary Olympics, a gold medalist as part of the Culinary Olympic Team U.S.A and he has also authored and published 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes, a cookbook dedicated to his passion for La Vera Cucina Italiana
Chef Coletta saw and continues to visualize Quartino as the ideal vehicle for synthesizing the insights derived from his childhood immersion in Italian cooking and his classical training. Coletta strives daily to continue achieving his goal to, “Honor humble authentic Italian dishes and present them as they are meant to be experienced.”
The menu consists of delectable Wine Bar Plates (Cicchetti) such as White Bean & Garlic Spread with toasted filone, Dates Wrapped in Pancetta stuffed with Gorgonzola dolce and drizzled with honey, Polenta Fries with red bell pepper salsa and more that are greatly complimented by the wines available on Quartino’s wine list. These small plates are created with wine-drinkers in mind. Their homemade soups and salads are served with only the freshest ingredients such as the Sun-Dried Tomato Soup with basil and ricotta crostini, Burrata salad with house-made burrata with roasted beets, Tuscan Kale with roasted butternut squash, sweet-n-sour onions and borlotti beans and more. Nothing compares to the delicious homemade pasta. From Cavatelli, to Ravioli, to Gnocchi, Quartino’s selection of pasta is shaped by hand and served in traditional Italian preparations. Sauces like Sugo di Manzo (served on house-made Pappardelle pasta) are made to highlight small handfuls of simple ingredients that compliment the tender pasta noodles. There is also an array of imported pasta (Pasta Secca) such as Orecchiette served with fennel-sausage ragu, Linguini with Clams with extra virgin olive oil, red chili, pinot grigio served in a red or white sauce and more. Risi (aged Acquerello riso from Piemonte) is high quality, imported carnaroli riso that shines in all of Chef Coletta’s delicate riso dishes, including Shrimp Risotto with zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes, or Mushroom Risotto with fresh mushrooms, mushroom puree and pork stock. Frutti di Mare (Seafood) has Italian seafood specialties like Roasted Baby Octopus with braised escarole, red chili and extra virgin olive oil, or Brodetto Ai Frutti Di Mare with shrimp, clams, octopus and fish simmered in acqua pazza with San Marzano tomatoes, all of which pay homage to stand-out regional Italian seafood preparations. There are certain dishes that diners will always want to see on an authentic Italian menu. Quartino delivers with artfully crafted specialties like Veal Osso Bucco with gremolata, Beef Short Ribs with salsa verde and Roasted Tuscan Sausage with roasted bell peppers, onions, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. In addition to an impressive list of imported hard cheeses Quartino also makes five of their cheeses in-house. Goat’s Milk Ricotta, Cow’s Milk Ricotta, Fiore Di Latte, Burrata and Scamorza are all hand-made in the kitchen and deliver an additional layer of authenticity and flavor to many dishes on the menu.
The house-made, Neapolitan Pizza (pizze) crust is made daily with Italian flour at Quartino, and the pizze are crafted with the different regions of Italy in mind. A nod to the Puglia region of Italy, the Pugliese is brick-oven baked with smoked provolone and onions, while the Trevise offers guests a taste of Veneto with prosciutto, radicchio and balsamic syrup.
Classic Italian desserts like Tiramisu are executed with the highest level of authenticity and integrity. Heavenly Zeppole (Italian doughnuts) are brought to the table with house-made chocolate sauce and honey for dipping, just as they are served in Italy. Guests can indulge in everything from a light and fruity sorbetto, to a rich and decadent Nutella Panino to punctuate their dining experience at Quartino. There’s also Gelati, Sorbetti and Fondue.
Quartino also offers a wide variety of wines, from many different regions of Italy. This selection of over 30 hand-picked wines, sold in carafes of three different sizes, makes it easy to pair the perfect wine with your authentic Italian meal. From Trebbianno, to Rose, to Sangiovese and dozens of other varietals, Quartino offers an elegant wine for everyone’s taste.
Diners that are looking for specialty cocktails to accompany their meal, will find that Quartino provides a variety of traditional Italian cocktails and spirits that add flare to an authentic Italian dining experience. Cocktails featuring house-made Limoncello, Orangecello and Grapefruitcello pair well with everything from antipasti, to dolce. Guests can also enjoy Sangria, Campari and Aperol Cocktails, and Quartino’s bar classic: The White Peach Bellini. In addition, Quartino carries many of Italy’s most popular after- dinner drinks, liqueurs, Grappa and Amaro (Italian bitters).
Reservations may be made by calling (312)-698-5000.
Monday-Friday 11:30 AM - 2:00 AM kitchen 1am
Saturday 11:30 AM - 3:00 AM kitchen 1am; pizza 2am
Sunday 11:30 - 1:00 AM kitchen midnight
Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar is located in the River North area at 626 N. State Street in Chicago. Please call (312) 698-5000 or visit online at www.QuartinoChicago.com for more information. Valet parking is available for $14.