IL MIO SOGNO REALIZZATO (MY DREAM COME TRUE)
Larry Levy, founder and chairman of Levy Restaurants, owner of Spiaggia.
I have always been passionate about Italy - the wine, the food, the people and the culture. My dream to bring my passion for Italy back to my hometown of Chicago started with a trip to the Mediterranean beach of Forti di Marmi. I went there to purchase granite and marble Vando for the building I was planning on the famed corner of Oak Street and Michigan Avenue, but I returned with much more.
The idea for Spiaggia, which means beach in Italian, came to me as I observed the Italian families from near and far relaxing on the beautiful beaches and savoring the delicious cooking of the seaside restaurants and cafes in Forti di Marmi. I began to envision an authentic Italian restaurant in Chicago as the centerpiece of my new building overlooking Chicago's Oak Street Beach on the shores of Lake Michigan. I imagined romantics proposing marriage, families celebrating special occasions, and companies toasting their biggest deals.
As I began construction at the One Magnificent Mile address in 1980, I found Chef Tony Mantuano, the maestro who would orchestrate the creation of a Downtown Chicago dining jewel. Chef Tony Mantuano is now a major star on the world's food stage. His innate brilliance and creativity inspires his talented staff, the guests he serves each day, and me.
During the last twenty years, we have hosted all types from celebrities with discerning palates including President and Mrs. Barack Obama, Sir Elton John, the late Princess Diana, Sir Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Billy Joel, Paul Newman and more to many of the great chefs of America and Europe including Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, Charlie Trotter, Gordon Ramsay, David Bouley, Paul Bocuse, Joel Robuchon and many others.
Like a proud father, I can't resist singing the praises of Spiaggia as one of the best Italian restaurants in Chicago, but my raves are confirmed by the culinary industry. Spiaggia has won virtually every culinary award, including James Beard Award Best Chef Midwest, the Ivy Award, the Oscar of the restaurant industry. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine rate Spiaggia four stars. Vando D'Angiolo, to me the quintessential Italian, says that Spiaggia would be one of the three best restaurants in Italy.
Whenever I am asked which is my favorite "dream become reality," I always answer with Spiaggia.