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Piccolo Mondo Restaurant to close after 37 years in Hyde Park

Hyde Park's Piccolo Mondo Restaurant to close
Hyde Park's Piccolo Mondo Restaurant to close 00:26

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The renowned Piccolo Mondo Restaurant and Bakery in Hyde Park announced over the weekend that it is going out of business later this month after 37 years.

Originally Piccolo Mondo Café, the trattoria has been in operation since 1985 on the ground floor of the Windermere House apartment tower, at 1642 E. 56th St.

Owner Norberto Zas announced in a Facebook post that Piccolo Mondo will close its doors on Sunday, Nov. 27. He wrote that he has decided to retire.

Thank you and goodby Dear neighbors, After 37 years in business serving the Hyde Park community Piccolo Mondo will close...

Posted by Piccolo Mondo Restaurant and Bakery on Sunday, November 6, 2022

The restaurant has been popular for decades with Hyde Park neighbors and the University of Chicago community – as well as visitors from elsewhere in the Chicago area and beyond. A stop for lunch or dinner at Piccolo Mondo has long been a popular choice in particular after a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, which is located just across 57th Drive and a strip of parkland where the museum's parking lot used to be located.

Piccolo Mondo was originally owned by Anna and Dino Romanucci – who also operated Benvenuti's in Villa Park and The Pasta Shoppe on the Northwest Side and later in Oak Park, according to multiple published reports. Zas took over as general manager of Piccolo Mondo in 1999 and as owner in 2007, according to a Hyde Park Herald report.

For several years, Piccolo Mondo had a second location at 2460 N. Clark St. in Lincoln Park.

Piccolo Mondo has long been known for its sunlit dining room, white tablecloths, extensive wine list, and fine Italian cuisine – from a variety of pasta dishes to chicken Vesuvio and veal scaloppini. Italian bread to drizzle with olive oil and parmesan cheese was a staple at every table. Back in the 1980s, a slice of gourmet deep-dish pizza was also on the menu at Piccolo Mondo – to the delight of many kids.

The Italian deli at the front of the house for many years served up homemade meatballs and subs to go alongside stacks of D'Amato's bread, enormous jars of olives, and shelves of Italian groceries.

Piccolo Mondo has since added Spanish tapas options and an Argentine bakery. The restaurant has also offered outdoor patio dining through the years.

Piccolo Mondo also operates a full catering service.

University of Chicago Divinity School Dinner

Posted by Piccolo Mondo Restaurant and Bakery on Thursday, March 31, 2022

On the Facebook post announcing the closure of the restaurant, numerous longtime patrons offered memories and accolades.

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