by Jennifer Olvera
Just about everyone fell in love with Labriola Bakery & Café, a handsome offshoot of the esteemed Alsip, Ill., wholesale bakery, when it opened in an upscale, if generic, Oak Brook strip mall outside of Chicago in late 2008.
Owner Rich Labriola, a pizza-maker’s son, formed one of the area’s most respected—and profitable—artisan bread-baking companies back in 1993, supplying his wares to hotels and restaurants, such as Rosebud, Phil Stefani ventures and Spago, before taking the next step.
Sure, lines snake around the store or out the door during peak times, but few seem to mind—especially now. Labriola just expanded, launching concept-within Labriola Pasticerria, where sweets—almost too pretty to eat—provide eye candy for the lunch-breaking suits, socialites and regular, old carb lovers who gobble fare at wooden tables illuminated by a roaring fire or flickering flat-screens.
After shoveling in foot-long grilled cheese sandwiches (dunked in luxuriously creamy tomato soup), wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and pillows of ricotta gnocchi topped with Pecorino-kissed tomato sauce, sinful Napoleons, delicate-looking Italian cookies—some laden with sprinkles—and authentic macaroons will tempt (or taunt) you to no end. Fondant cakes “wrapped” in frosting ribbons and cinnamon sour cream cake are worth the indulgence; even sweeter, some offerings can be had by the slice. The gelato selection, already a draw, has expanded, too. Specialty cakes can be ordered in advance, though you still can grab breads—from crusty ciabatta and baguettes to pretzel rolls—to go. Another plus? While brunch is served on the weekends, it’s possible to order most anything off of the menu (even that slab of chocolate cake you know you shouldn’t) from open until close.
Labriola Bakery Café and Neapolitan Pizzeria
3021 Butterfield Rd.
Oak Brook, IL 60523