At La Macchina Café, co-owner Marco Ferrarina says his goal is to recreate the traditional cuisine he grew up with in Italy’s Reggio Emilia region, cooked by his mother, his grandmother and his mother-in-law.
When he eats a dish of cappelletti in broth, the homemade tortellini stuffed with prosciutto, parmesan and veal tenderloin should taste like home.
“I want to close my eyes and seem to be in my living room,” he says.
Ferrarini and fellow Evanston resident Chris Casas celebrated the grand opening of their new restaurant at 1620 Orrington Ave. on Wednesday afternoon. The restaurant and café has 70 Italian wines on its list and 30 by the glass, according to Ferrarini. Lunch and dinner cuisine consists of typical Italian dishes like homemade pasta and salumi, while La Macchina also serves coffee roasted in Evanston at the partners’ other business, Coffee Speed Shop.
Since the restaurant opened in October 2013, business has been good, according to Casas.
“We are really just extremely thankful that Evanstonians are embracing what we’re doing here,” he said.
Before La Macchini, Casas owned two other cafes in Evanston that have since closed, including The Italian Coffee Bar, at 1549 Sherman Ave.
Ferrarini moved to Evanston to open a branch of his Italian engineering company. His offices were across the street from the Italian Coffee Bar, and as he stopped in for coffee regularly, he got to know Casas.
The two decided to go into business together over grappa and cigars on Ferrarini’s deck.
“There’s a huge market for good Italian product in Chicago,” Ferrarini says.
This week’s special menu, for example, includes capelletti in broth, asparagus wrapped with Prosciutto di Parma and Balsamic vinegar and handmade “squid ink” tagliolini with little clams.
“We’re really trying to be as authentic an Italian experience as we can by bringing our own meats, cheeses and wines over from Italy and Europe,” Casas says. “As much as we can do in house, we’re going to do.”
Even the décor is authentic Italian. Perched around the dining room are three vintage Italian motorcycles, including a 1958 Ducati and a late ’50s Verda. Casas rides vintage Italian motorcycles competitively, and says he has another 70 in a showroom in Skokie. All are for sale.
Casas and Ferrarini are also selling coffee to local businesses through their coffee roaster, Coffee Speed Shop, which opened last March at 2000 Greenleaf St. in west Evanston.
La Macchina is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. The restaurant is serving special menus through Saturday, Jan. 18, as part of its grand opening celebration, and will host a cocktail party starting at 6 p.m. Saturday.