Carlucci Restaurants has become one of Chicagoland’s most iconic hospitality brands since its inception in 1984 with the opening of the first Carlucci on Halsted Street. Since then, the Carlucci brand has come to signify the finest in Italian cuisine, ambiance, and hospitality- a complete dining experience with an emphasis on value. Joe Carlucci has been impressing guests at his suburban locations for decades, and it’s long been his dream to bring his concept back to the city. Carlucci has remained committed to presenting his guests with an authentic Italian experience and is proud to introduce his newest restaurant concept to Chicago’s vibrant East Loop neighborhood, directly across from Millennium Park. Carlucci Chicago aims to appeal to neighborhood residents as well as serve as a destination for visitors to the city.
Carlucci is famous for providing his guests with a true immersive Italian dining experience. From the restaurant design to the Italian inspired food and wine, Joe Carlucci’s Italian heritage shines through in his passion for everything Italian. Carlucci Chicago showcases Italian culture at its finest, and no detail was spared in creating the new downtown restaurant. Joe Carlucci imported the restaurant floors and furniture from Italy, and guests dine under ceiling frescoes reminiscent of scenes from Pompeii, painted by local artist Mel Westmeyer.
Chef Dana Heffernan, who was formally trained in Sorrento, brings his passion for the Italian style of cooking to Carlucci. Featured dishes include Carlucci’s signature Bombonato, a wide-noodle prosciutto dish that is tossed tableside in the hollow of an aged parmigiana cheese wheel. Try the arancini, a classic Italian antipasti, or the whole grilled Branzino. Carlucci’s in-house sommelier and General Manager Robert Reinke have curated an impressive wine list comprised of wines from Italy, Spain, and California designed to pair with the different flavor profiles represented on the menu. To round out the ambiance, the restaurant playlist features many Italian American artists, from Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga.
Above all, Italians are known for their hospitable manner and relaxed dining style. Carlucci strives to replicate this experience by making guests feel warm and welcome. Welcome in- relax and enjoy the ambiance, cuisine, attentive service, and attention to detail that has long been the standard of Carlucci brand hospitality. Since the pandemic has restricted travel, let Carlucci Chicago offer you an authentic Italian fix as the next best thing to traveling to Italy. The Carlucci legacy lives on in this newest venture, Carlucci Chicago. Salute!
Chef Dana Heffernan
Growing up in rural northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, Dana has always had a close connection with food. Both of his parents also being talented home cooks gave him a good foundation to move into a career in the culinary arts. After working in some of the best restaurants in Madison WI, it was time for a new challenge. He would pack his bags to live in Sorrento, Italy for over a year. There he deepened his love for Italian food and its connection to local ingredients by studying under Chef Biaggio Longo while working in restaurants such as Il Buco and Ristorante Tasso. Upon returning to the United States it was time for a new challenge in the city of Chicago. Since moving to Chicago he has worked for the great Chicago chefs like Pat Sheerin and John Hogan, as well as working at the Michelin starred Spiaggia for Tony Mantuano and TopChef 15 winner Joe Flamm. He is eager to bring his rustic yet sophisticated Italian menu to your table at Carlucci.
Robert Reinke – Manager
A respected industry veteran, Robert brings more than 20 years of hospitality and restaurant experience, including an impressive tenure at the iconic steakhouse chain Grill on the Alley, Kinzie Chophouse and Marshall’s Landing to his role as general manager of Carlucci.
Born and raised on the North Shore, Robert first gained an interest in the hospitality industry from his job working at La Tour de Bois at The Abbey while attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
While working at The Grill on the Alley he received his sommelier pin from The Court of Master Sommelier’s, he went on to curate a wine list that has earned many Wine Spectator awards.
He looks forward bringing his philosophy of personalized service that makes regulars feel like family and newcomers feel like regulars to the New Lakeshore East neighborhood.