In 1953 Bruno Pupolo had the foresight to offer Chicago a relatively new concept. A family Italian restaurant where pizza was made with daily homemade dough and Italian sausage, and fresh vegetables that were shopped for every morning. But the pièce de résistance was Bruno's pizza sauce recipe! The jukebox, a song for a dime or three songs for a quarter, always seemed to be playing.
Pupolo decided to name the restaurant "Il Forno," meaning "the oven" in Italian.
|The pizza was thin, delicious, and cut into squares.|
Later that year Bruno's son in law, Lou Bonelli, along with his mother in law, Philomena Tancredi, purchased Il Forno restaurant at 2842 West Devon Avenue in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood in the West Ridge community.
|Chicago Tribune Help Wanted Ad, October 18, 1953.|
|An example of lighting fixtures used appearing as oven heating elements.|
The rest is pretty much Chicago pizza folklore. According to Lou, "the pizza place was such a new concept that people would come out of curiosity. That curiosity stuck like pasta on a wall."
Several other Il Forno pizza restaurants opened in the following years. Skokie would soon follow on Church Street in 1956. Next, a Highland Park restaurant was opened in 1961 on Roger Williams Avenue, followed by Linden Avenue in Wilmette in 1965. The Skokie store then moved to Morton Grove on Dempster Street in 1970. The Highland Park restaurant, the current location, run by the 3rd generation, opened on Old Elm Road in 1972.
Mike Rudolph, who managed the Highland Park store from 1974, purchased the store from Lou in 1986. Rudolph is still serving the same homemade dough, family sausage recipe, and the same Bruno Pupolo pizza sauce that was created in 1953.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.