Every day a celebration with Sciarretta at Italian Kitchen
John Sciatta, owner of the Italian Kitchen in Deerfield, in his restaurant on Monday, February 11, 2013. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 9:32AM
DEERFIELD — The ritualistic overeating that characterizes the Tuesday preceding a long season of self-denial is a guilty pleasure excused by the fact that it only comes around once a year.
But for Deerfield Italian Kitchen Proprietor John Sciarretta, Jr., Martedí Grass — or “Fat Tuesday”— is just like any other Tuesday.
“We like to celebrate with everybody; it doesn’t have to be a particularly special day,” Sciarretta Jr. said, referring to the buffet Deerfield Italian Kitchen lays out for its customers every Tuesday.
Sciarretta Jr. said that he and his wife, Emerald Sciarretta, and their staff make every day a celebration for their dine-in, carry-out and catered-to customers — a tradition that his great grandfather set forth when he founded the Kitchen 50 years ago.
Q: Do you live in Deerfield?
A: I do not. I live in Chicago.
Q: How long has Italian Kitchen been in Deerfield?
A: It’s been Italian Kitchen since 1972; it has been in the family since 1962. My father bought it from his godfather back then, and now my wife and I are running it.
Q: Is your family from Italy?
A: My mom came from Italy; my father was born here. My mother was from Bari, in the southern part of Italy. They have a tendency to overfeed everybody.
Q: Why do you think it’s done so well for so long in the area?
A: Deerfield was always a community-based shopping area, and I think that it works well—families that live in Deerfield like to shop and dine here too.
Q: Does Italian Kitchen Restaurant partake in any “Fat Tuesday” specials?
A: Fat Tuesday is an all-you-can-eat buffet that runs the whole day. There’s desserts, fresh seafood, chicken dishes, sausage and peppers. Many of our signature pasta dishes are on there, and eggplant parmesan to accommodate the vegetarians too. We have a buffet open every Tuesday—it’s our second year doing this. It’s kind of funny, though, because every day is a celebration in one way or another. Last night we had four ladies come in that were celebrating a birthday, and that becomes part of the whole experience. We like to celebrate with people. The unfortunate aspect of it is that some days we’ll be celebrating someone’s life when they pass, because they’ve been a customer of ours for so long.
Q: What’s one of the harder parts of owning an Italian restaurant for so long?
A: We have customers that have been coming here for 30 years and we do their 70th and 80th birthday parties, and when you find they’ve passed, the family requests for us to open and close for them for the memorial service…it’s one of those things where, though it’s your business, you have a customer that has brought his family and grandkids in for 30 years and you know him personally, and they need your restaurant on a Friday night, and you do it. They are more than just customers.
Q: What’s your favorite vacation destination?
A: I like to go camping – backpacking. I’ve gone camping in Montana, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico. We like to find those little remote places and pan for gold for a day in some strange river in the middle of nowhere with an open fire.
Q: Do you have a favorite TV show?
A: I just love the History Channel. No real favorite TV show.
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: “Apocalypse Now.” Kind of an old school movie, but a classic.