Cotto A Legna’s goal is to be better than Italy

PUBLISHED IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE NOVEMBER 4, 2015

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Enjoy authentic Italian cooking and fine wines at Cotto A Legna on Third Street in Geneva.

Cotto A Legna is Italian for “baked in wood” which is a nod to the rustic dishes that this classic restaurant serves.

Here’s the scoop on this authentic Italian spot.

What’s on the menu? Whether you’re hankering for just appetizers, meat and cheese plates, pastas, pizzas, or other classic Italian dishes, Cotto A Legna offers a wide variety of savory, comforting choices.

“It’s like me, very Italian. My accent is as strong as the taste of our food,” said owner Igor Leone, laughing.

About the owner: Leone moved to the United States 2002 and was a laborer. “I was working in construction, but my passion is food,” said Leone. After eight years of searching for good pasta and other Italian food, Leone decided to open Cotto A Legna, a restaurant of his own in which he could share his heritage and cooking with the western Chicagoland suburbs. “I am very passionate about food. I try to keep it very close to what we have in Italy, maybe even make it even better,” he said.

Mission statement or philosophy: “I want to make the customers happy because they make me happy. I will do whatever it takes to keep them happy. I like people. All Italians are like this, they like it when people are happy and eating. When someone is having a nice time with a friend and a good meal and a glass of wine, you can forget about all your worries. A meal is the best time to sit down and spend time with each other and talk about your day, your life, and everything.” Bringing people together and keeping them happy is all that Leone needs at Cotto A Legna.

Decor: Cotto A Legna is modern, yet relaxed and completely unstuffy. A wood burning oven mirrors that of a warm and cozy fireplace. Wooden table tops with industrial steel legs line the restaurant with casual, comfortable chairs. During the day, Cotto a Legna is drenched with natural sunlight and at night it glows with the warmth of a hearth.

Specialties: Most of the dishes at Cotto A Legna are reminiscent of Leone’s childhood favorites. “I grew up in a little family. My grandma and I used to make cookies together when I was little. Everything was fresh made — from the pasta to the sauce. I grew up in a family where everything is from scratch. And growing up in Sicily, we had to make everything ourselves in that old fashioned style,” Leone said. “We sell a lot of pasta,” said Leone. He continued, “Pasta and bread is all we need in Italy.”

We’re different because: “Besides the products, we cook the food special. We use old-time ingredients for traditional dishes. We just cook and share and love what we do,” said Leone.

Extras: On top of a stellar daily menu, Cotto A Legna has weekly specials with hand-picked dishes for the season. “We have weekly specials that is what is freshest on the market. I try to make new things and keep it fresh. We have an amazing truffle pizza right now and a truffle pappardelle. Fall is the best time to get a truffle,” said Leone.

Price range: Dishes range between $10-$27.

Logistics: Cotto A Legna is at 500 S. Third St. in Geneva, steps away from the Geneva Metra station. They are open Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Call 331-248-0263 or go towww.cottoalegna.com.

Beth Casey is a freelance writer.

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