The Family Behind Papa Milano Returns with Mama Milano
Posted Apr 6, 2011 at 05:43 PM
By Penny Pollack, Graham Meyer, and Lena Singer
Two brothers are the great-grandsons of Papa Milano, who at one time owned 13 Chicago-area restaurants. One, at State and Oak, had the old-school red-sauce charm that made people sigh with nostalgia even when it was open. In Act One, these two brothers face a decision: Keep their Lincoln Park branch of Papa Milano or produce an unusual, interactive theatre show. The brothers, named Joseph and Tony Tomaska, choose the show, called Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. It’s a hit, running 17 years. In Act Two, they are successful producers, having just premiered a movie called Drunkboat, with John Malkovich, John Goodman, and Dana Delany at the Chicago International Film Festival. In Act Three, they decide to return to the family business to open Mama Milano Pizza Bar (1419 N. Wells St.; 312-787-3710). “[The pizza bar] is a concept that’s pretty hot in New York now,” says Tony Tomaska. Bartenders make Neapolitan pizzas in a gas oven, and wines are served in quartino carafes. The Milano family recipes come back, including the Giuseppe pizza: tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, salami, and olives. “Our great-great-uncle Tom Granato was the first restaurateur to have pizza on a menu in Chicago,” Tony says. “On Taylor Street. It was called Granato’s. Probably the late thirties.” Mama Milano is scheduled to premiere in May.