ST. CHARLES – Pomodoro E Mozzarella offers a slice of Italy that's about 4,000 miles closer to home.
Owners Rosalia and Giuseppe Imperiale opened the new restaurant in St. Charles on Oct. 3. They makes everything to order from scratch using old family recipes, and they import their flour and tomatoes straight from Italy. The restaurant's name, Pomodoro E Mozzarella, is Italian for tomato and cheese.
The recipes are simple and healthy, the owners said.
"We use no chemicals – just water, salt and yeast," said Giuseppe Imperiale about the artisan pizza dough, which is made fresh every day. "There are no additives. It's all about temperature."
He said the artisan pizzas are one of the restaurant's signature dishes. When he makes a Margherita artisan pizza, Giuseppe Imperiale stretches the pizza dough by hand before adding homemade pizza sauce. Then he uses fresh mozzarella – not the shredded kind, at least not for the artisan Margherita – and tops it with some fresh basil leaves. He drizzles the dough with extra virgin olive oil near the crust before running it through the oven. Within four or five minutes, the pizza is ready to serve.
"We call it an Italian-style wood burning oven without the scent of smoke," Giuseppe Imperiale said.
Pomodoro E Mozzarella serves six types of artisan-style pizzas, including the Ai Spinaci – sauteed spinach with fresh roasted sausage, garlic and fresh mozzarella.
The menu also has three types of "pizza bianca," which is pizza without red sauce. One "bianca" dish is the Pizza Cruda, which is made with fresh mozzarella, fresh tomato, garlic, arugula and olive oil.
Both Rosalia and Giuseppe Imperiale were born in Italy, and the restaurant is very much a family business. Rosalia Imperiale's 82-year-old mother, Cristina, helps out, as does the Imperiales' 15-year-old son, Francesco.
"We're a close-knit family," said Rosalia Imperiale. "Our recipes – we grew up with this stuff. We grew up with food."
Giuseppe Imperiale said in addition to the fresh calamari appetizers, the Arancini Rice Balls, which are fried rice balls filled with ground beef, peas and mozzarella, have been popular dishes.
The menu also offers soups, two types of homemade bruschetta – one with arugula and shaved Parmesan, and another with diced tomatoes, spices, fresh herbs, garlic, onions and evo – along with American-style pizzas, salads, seafood, chicken and a long list of panini sandwiches served hot or cold.
The paninis are served on ciabatta, rustic Italian or French bread, and sandwiches include the Petti Di Pollo Alla Griglia – a grilled chicken breast with evo lemon dressing, tomato and romaine lettuce – and the Panino Di Gamberi – sauteed garlic shrimp, romaine lettuce, mayonnaise, tomato and spices.
Pastas include house specials, such as the Rigatoni Boscaiola – a pasta noodle with mushrooms and sausage in cream sauce. Homemade desserts, such as the Tiramisu and Cannoli Siciliani, also are on the menu.
Pomodoro E Mozzarella offers carry-out, delivery and catering, and dishes are served in microwave-safe containers.
Rosalia Imperiale said they believe in using the freshest, high-quality ingredients, because they can taste the difference.
"You have to give your customers what you want to eat," she said. "People will connect with that."
Pomodoro E Mozzarella, 1850 W. Main St., St. Charles, offers carry-out, delivery and catering. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 630-549-0589.