Welcome

Convito Italiano's first space before construction 1980

My name is Nancy Brussat and I am the owner of an Italian café and market in Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb on the north side of Chicago.  The original Convito Italiano was opened in 1980.  It included a deli, bakery, prepared foods, groceries and wine.  Today it is renamed Convito Café & Market and has expanded to include an 80 seat restaurant.

In preparation for launching my business I wanted to learn as much as possible about the food, the wine and the culture of this country I so came to love. I had the good fortune to have extraordinary teachers, Milanese residents and future partners Paolo Volpara and his mother Wanda Bottino.  During my frequent travels from 1979 to 1986 I was able to cook with Wanda in her small Milanese kitchen during the week then travel to different regions with Paolo on the weekends. I continue visiting Italy to this day but this was my time of total Italian immersion.

It was the beginning of an adventure that carried me to the four corners of Italy and every region in-between.  It was also the beginning of another kind of journey – a personal one that opened up possibilities I never considered or knew existed.  It was a heady time for a girl brought up in the fifties.

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About Nancy Brussat

I am the owner of an Italian café and market in Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb on the north side of Chicago.  The original Convito Italiano was opened in 1980.  It included a deli, bakery, prepared foods, groceries and wine.  Today it is renamed Convito Café & Market and has expanded to include an 80 seat restaurant.   In preparation for launching my business I wanted to learn as much as possible about the food, the wine and the culture of this country I so came to love. I had the good fortune to have extraordinary teachers, Milanese residents and future partners Paolo Volpara and his mother Wanda Bottino.  During my frequent travels from 1979 to 1986 I was able to cook with Wanda in her small Milanese kitchen during the week then travel to different regions with Paolo on the weekends. I continue visiting Italy to this day but this was my time of total Italian immersion.   It was the beginning of an adventure that carried me to the four corners of Italy and every region in-between.  It was also the beginning of another kind of journey – a personal one that opened up possibilities I never considered or knew existed.  It was a heady time for a girl brought up in the fifties.    
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14 Responses to Welcome

  1. Alison May says:

    Nancy, so great. I couldn’t “put it down!” The writing is wonderful, the storytelling so engaging, and the story itself — what a life and life-changing time! I feel priveleged to know the writer. And, I can’t wait for the next installment. I hope you copyright this blog and turn it into a book one day. Seriously, I’m certain it would leave the shelves a lot quicker than those grollo pots did! Reminds me of Ruth Reichl’s books. Please do keep me on the reminder list. Love to you. xo Alison

  2. LaDona O'Donnell says:

    Nancy – I enjoyed the entire piece; photos, recipes, reflections. It was great to share in your journey and experience your taste of Italy.

  3. Tom Barocci says:

    Nancy, dear
    This is just excellent. I loved all from the pictures (oh so young in the open space of Convito) to the story, beautifully told, to the recipes. I will be a blogger person, finally.
    Thanks so much.
    T

  4. Meme says:

    Nancy, it’s wonderful. The details and recipes make me yearn to go to the region. If I am to read all you blogs-then we need to go to Italy again together!

  5. Cameron says:

    What an incredible wealth of knowledge! I can relate to your experiences in many ways and love that you are sharing them!

  6. Gordon Sinclair says:

    I waited several days before opening your inaugural blog as the spare time never seemed to come. Thinking I’d skim the pages and enjoy the photos, I opened it and got pulled into the stories and finished reading the whole blog. Nicely done young girl from the 50s! Looking forward to having dinner with you at Convito when I return from San Miguel de Allende and visit Chicago in June. Gordon Sinclair

  7. Bob Barocci says:

    HI,
    Congratulations!
    Beautifully written, wonderful to read and very useful for cooks who long to be authentic.
    And compliments on your outstanding memory and photo files.
    I loved the trip thru memory lane.
    Bob

  8. Diane says:

    Nancy, loved reading about your adventures. Please keep it going.

  9. Charles E. Yonkers says:

    If I told you my name, I would lose credibility. It would hurt the cause. My praise of your writing and story would diminish it. How could anybody with my name have anything of substance to say or add? But I know the writer. I know the woman. I know the place but not all the characters you introduce. But I can attest to the author. She is the genuine article, the midwestern discerning ethnic voice of Chicago, shining her attention on Italy and its glories. I ask you, readers, doesn’t its authenticity come through? Is she real, or what? Do I love the story and the writing? You bet. Keep it up, Nancy. You have a fan club.

  10. Starbucks Mayor says:

    I still do not understand why you will not put pictures of IRISH men on your web site. It seems all you know are Italian men! I see good lucking Irish men every day at Starbucks at the Plaza del Lago in Wilmette. Please try to improve the site!

  11. Nancy,
    What wonderful recollections and amazing descriptions! Loved the recipes and photos.
    Jeanette

  12. Seth Allen says:

    Nancy – I always marveled at your discipline; having returned from a mission to Italy you could always be found in your office with a cappuccino, writing down all that you observed, experienced and learned. You shared some of your writing with us from time to time, usually over a glass of Tocai or Montepulciano, and your enthusiasm for Italy was truly contagious – as you know it infected me and I have still not been cured! I know that those who read your blog will sense this too.

    Complimenti!

  13. katherine catalano says:

    Anyone who knows you will agree that you would have been a success in any career involving exquisite choices in what constitutes beauty and taste. Your journal reads like a travelogue in which I feel I am along for the ride. So well done, my Dear Nancy. All of it. And the photos of you, your timeless fashion sense, and the glorious food made his half hour I just spent with you in Italy a lovely event on a spring day. Good time to make a risotto Primavera, which is about the only dish I think I could manage! I don’t often have the travel bug, but I think it just bit me.
    Love,
    Katherine

  14. Katherine Catalano says:

    Dear Nancy, Places you have visited, explored, enjoyed, satisfy “my armchair traveler” adventures. This latest entry with the fabled Isle of Capri at the center, reminded me that the wine you spoke of–Capri Bianco– as “full of sun and flavor” is a good description of your own general outlook on life. Gotta have it.
    Love,
    Katherine

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