In 1953 Bruno Pupolo had the foresight to offer Chicago a relatively new concept. A place where families could sit down, listen to jukebox music, eat pizza made with homemade dough, homemade pizza sausage, fresh vegetables, and tell their friends about Pupolo's family recipe for pizza sauce. He decided to call the restaurant Il Forno, meaning "the oven" in Italian. Later that year Bruno's son in law, Lou Bonelli, along with his mother in law, Phyllis Tancredi, purchased the new concept on Devon Avenue in Chicago's West Rogers Park. The rest is pretty much Chicago pizza folklore. According to Lou, "a pizza place was such a new concept that people would come out of curiosity". "That curiosity stuck like pasta on a wall," says Lou. Several other Il Forno pizza restaurants opened in the following years. Skokie would soon follow on Church Street in 1956. Next to come, Highland Park was afforded the new delicacy in 1961 on Roger Williams, followed by Linden Avenue in Wilmette in 1965. The Skokie store then moved to Morton Grove on Dempster Avenue in 1970. The Highland Park store, where we are currently serving our 3rd generation of children, opened on Old Elm Road in 1972. Mike Rudolph, who managed the Highland Park store from 1974, purchased the store from Lou in 1986. Today he is overseeing the everyday operations of the pizzeria, serving the same homemade dough, fresh vegetables, specially made pizza sausage
and that same Bruno Pupolo pizza sauce that created a concept in 1953. "Having grandparents, who ate the same pizza in their childhood, come into the store to purchase pizza for their grandkids often creates thrilling conversation".
Enjoy a slice of history, Mike Rudolph