Tre Sorelle Ristorante, located at 1111 Lake St. in Oak Park and formerly known as the original Mancini's, is scheduled to open on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
"After more than 40 years in the business, I thought I had retired," said Tre Sorelle owner Al Mancini. "But, I am happy to be back and know I still have it in me to run this place."
After 19 years in the restaurant business, Mancini opened his namesake eatery at 1038 Lake St. in 1995 before purchasing the building at 1111 Lake St. in 2005. After relocating the restaurant, Mancini maintained ownership of Mancini's until 2014.
When a couple approached Mancini with an interest in purchasing the business, Mancini consulted with his family about the potential sale. In the end and with his family's support, Mancini maintained ownership of building, sold the business, and moved into a new role as landlord.
Three years into a five-year lease, the new owners opted to sell the business. Despite the fact ownership of Mancini's had changed hands several times, the name always remained the same. When the restaurant ultimately closed in February 2019, Mancini had not been involved with restaurant operations for several years.
"I sold the restaurant," said Mancini, "but that didn't really work out."
Over the past year, Mancini had been working to revive the restaurant with Vince Pecora, an accomplished restaurateur. Mancini intended to serve as landlord and support Pecora during his first year in business. But, six weeks ago, said Mancini, health concerns forced Pecora to step aside from the business endeavor. The amicable parting left Mancini solely in charge of operations at Tre Sorelle.
Now Mancini is finishing remodeling work and renaming the restaurant. Tre Sorelle translates to "three sisters," and Mancini anticipates his trio of daughters will be on site regularly to lend support after the opening.
"I raised three daughters while I worked here, and my customers knew them by name;" said Mancini. "This name change honors them."
Guests should look for Tre Sorelle Ristorante to honor the traditions of the old Mancini's. The menu will feature Italian classics with a modern twist, including baked clams and calamari. Assorted pastas with gluten-free options and hearty fare like pork chops and chicken will round out the menu. Additionally, Tre Sorelle will offer daily specials, dine-in, carryout and delivery options.
Chuck Reed, bartender, barista and longtime Mancini's employee, serves up a memorable cappuccino and is excited about his cocktail menu at Tre Sorelle. Reed has focused on creating versions of classic cocktails renamed as an homage to famous Oak Park residents.
"We'll have a Betty White Chocolate Martini and a daiquiri Hemmingway would approve of," said Reed of his beverage concepts.
While there are a few items left on Mancini's opening day checklist (including getting the computer systems up and running), he said he takes great pride in his reputation and values his customers.
"Look, I don't grow tomatoes and I miss my customers," said Mancini of coming out of retirement. "So, the bottom line is I am back in; I am all in."
Answer Book 2019
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