Meet Oakbrook Center’s best-kept secret: Antico Posto, a cozy Italian cafe and wine bar that’s been serving up fresh pasta since 1999. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle, Antico Posto is a great place to enjoy authentic dishes inspired by Tuscany and Bologna. Make a reservation at Antico Posto.

Chef Joe tends to the pizza oven at Antico Posto
Chef Joe Dellacroce tends the pizza oven at Antico Posto

Italian for “The Old Spot,” Antico Posto holds its moniker proudly. We’ve asked third-generation Italian and Antico Posto’s Chef, Joe Dellacroce, to weigh in on old cooking wives tales, and provide some tips to help guide you through your next Italian cooking adventure!

Salting Pasta Water: Yes or No?

pasta being extruded at Antico Posto

: While you may be used to tossing some salt into your boiling water when making pasta at home, not all pastas or method are created equal. Because all the pasta is fresh, made in-house and pre-seasoned at Antico Posto, there is no need to add more flavor to the water. But, if you’re cooking boxed pasta at home, you have our approval to toss in some salt to taste.

Can any sauce be used on any type of pasta?

YES! We may have some favorite pasta and sauce combinations at Antico Posto, but feel free to get creative with your pairings. Chef Joe says a good rule-of-thumb is that “the sauce should complement the pasta, not overpower it. If you have a pasta like ravioli, the sauce should also enhance the flavor of the filling.

Is Gelato the Same as Ice Cream?

peanut butter gelato in a white bowl from antico posto
Chocolate Peanut Butter Gelato

NO: Sure, there are similarities between the two scoopable sweets, but there is a BIG difference! Traditional gelato has a higher proportion of milk, has less cream and eggs (or no eggs at all), and is churned at a slower rate, which leaves the finished product less airy, more dense and smoother than ice cream. Fun Fact: All of Antico Posto’s gelato is housemade!

Is Gnocchi only made out of potatoes?

Gnocchi with Mushrooms
Gnocchi with Mushrooms

NO: While yes, potatoes ARE a popular base ingredient for gnocchi, the pasta is technically defined as dough dumplings that are soft, thick and smaller in size. Gnocchi can be made out of anything, as lovers of Antico Posto’s Ricotta Gnocchi will tell you. Try the classic Gnocchi Delicata or Gnocchi with Mushrooms, both with a melt in your mouth, pillow-y consistency.

Is all Italian food unhealthy?

ABSOLUTELY NOT: Italian cuisine is not all fats and carbs – there are so many lean fishes, salads and fresh vegetables that are classic dishes! Healthy favorites at the restaurant include the Chopped Salad and Herb-Roasted Salmon.

Isn’t Italian food primarily pizza and pasta?

NO: Pizza and pastas are iconic Italian dishes here in the states, but did you know that pasta is traditionally served in smaller portions as a mid-course in Italy? The southern tip of Italy is surrounded by fishing towns, whereas up north you’ll find farms and forests where chefs use lots of mushrooms and truffles. Also, meat and cheese lovers rejoice; you can thank Italy for your favorite charcuterie boards featuring favorites like pecorino, fontina and parmesan cheeses, or dried meats like capocollo, salami and more.

Is the hype of a wood-burning oven real?

YES! It’s simple: pizza just comes out crispier and better! The wood-burning oven at Antico Posto was flown in from Italy 19 years ago! Pizzas are cooked at 600 degrees – normal ovens only go up to 450-500 degrees – and the open flame eliminates the gas taste.

Wine pairings: What are the rules?

Chef Joe breaks the rules down and shares that “usually you pair white wine with a white protein like fish and chicken, and a red wine goes great with a meat or lamb dish. My recommendations at Antico Posto is our Chardonnay from Sean Minor or Picket Fence, paired with the Chicken Raguso, and a Super Tuscan like our Pegasus from Guado Al Melo paired with the Spaghetti Bolognese.View Antico Posto’s full wine list here.

What makes the perfect pizza dough?

We’re not claiming the pizza at Antico Posto is perfect, but we’re not NOT saying it’s perfect. Chef Joe and his team mix the pizza dough by hand in the morning, proofs* it a bit in the warmer, and then into the fridge it goes so it doesn’t overproof.

*Definition of proof: when the yeast in the dough begins fermentation and makes it increase in size and get “puffy.” Putting the dough in the fridge stops – or slows down – this process.

Now that you’ve been schooled on the art of Italian cooking, we hope you’ll come check out Chef Joe’s dishes at Antico Posto. Make your reservation here.

Click here to check out tips from our wine directors on unconventional wine regions of the world!