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Simonini Gourmet serves new take on old-world Italian roots

Simonini Gourmet may be new to Granger, but for the Vasta family, its roots run a century deep.

The Italian eatery, the latest addition to Centennial Place, is scheduled to open its doors in July. Tammy Vasta, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Joseph, and his brother, Salvatore, said the idea goes back to 1908.

The Vasta brothers’ great-grandfather, Joe Simonini, owned the original Simonini Gourmet restaurant in Chicago in the early 20th century, which has since closed. By opening the new Granger eatery, the family plans to “reestablish his restaurant in ours,” Vasta said. “Our concept is bringing back old-world, handmade Italian recipes in a modern, industrial-chic atmosphere.”

The restaurant’s industrial décor will pay homage to the family history as well, Vasta said, as the old Simonini Gourmet was open during the industrial revolution. Though this is the Vasta family’s first restaurant, Joseph, a trained chef, has worked in the culinary field for 20 years.

In addition to a 50-chair dine-in area and a patio with outdoor seating, Simonini will also have a retail shop and deli-style area to serve Italian food products and take-away options from the restaurant’s menu.

Simonini’s menu will cover breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast will feature more “grab-and-go options,” Vasta said, including a variety of homemade popovers in flavors like eggs Benedict and prosciutto and leek, plus Lavazza Coffee imported from Italy. Lunch will feature sandwiches and salads, with dinner concentrated on homemade pizza, risotto, and chicken and pasta dishes, including the family’s ravioli specialty. Dinner entrées will range from $10 to $22.

The restaurant also places an emphasis on buying local. “We want to stay true to that model,” said Vasta, who also works as a manger of associate health service at Beacon Health System. Simonini is working to partner with many family-owned businesses in the area and is looking to hire locally in the next month. Daily specials will feature local vegetables and fruits based on seasonal availability of the produce.

Simonini will also offer a wine list and signature desserts made by Bit of Swiss Bakery in Michigan.

Simonini Gourmet will be located at Centennial Place, 230 W. Cleveland Road in Granger. Check back for updates on the opening later this summer.

Editor’s note – The initial version of this story referred to Centennial Plaza, which is incorrect according to owner Julie Shea. The name of the retail development is Centennial Place. Sorry about the error.

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