When I was a kid, my family came to Chicago pretty often. Being from the west side of the Mitten, only a few hours from the Chi, anytime we were in need of great food and some shopping, we hopped in the car. Like clockwork, our first stop when we got into town was Papa Milano’s. It was my family’s absolute favorite Italian restaurant on the planet. Their red sauce was TDF (to-die-for), the gnocchi perfection and the hostess never failed to be wearing electric blue eye shadow.
One night, we asked the cab to take us the to corner of Oak and State in anticipation of some Papa Milano’s gloriousness and…nothing. Papa Milano’s had closed.
To say my Dad was devastated is an understatement. “How could they close Papa Milano’s? It’s a Chicago institution! And I want their house salad and I want it now!”. He wrote the family, begging them to reopen, somewhere, anywhere. When Barney’s and a Citibank went up on that corner…well, it was (almost) enough to make my dear old Dad swear off Chicago and Italian food forever.
I follow Penny Pollack, Chicago Mag’s dining editor, on Twitter and last night, she tweeted the tweet of all tweets: “The Family Behind Papa Milano’s returns with Mama Milano’s“. Come this May, a pizza bar called Mama Milano’s will be open at 1419 North Wells!
A pizza bar! In Old Town! Giuseppe Pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella, salami and olives) for everyone!
It turns out that people other than my family have been missing the Milano magic in Chicago. Something tells me that my Dad is going to be visiting me a lot come May…