Tony Mantuano

Chef, Restaurateur

Chicago

Tony Mantuano may be recognized as a Top Chef Masters alum, but he’s also an influential force when it comes to the restaurant world. He’s the chef and partner of one of the best Italian restaurants in Chicago, Spiaggia, which he opened in 1984. After publishing his books, The Spiaggia Cookbook and Wine Bar Food, Mantuano opened Terzo Piano inside the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing. And in November 2011, he opened Bar Toma in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Although Mantuano was named a part of the American Chef Corps in 2012, the award closest to his heart was received in April 2009 when he and his wife, Cathy, were presented with the keys to San Martino, Italy, for serving authentic Italian cuisine in America. Mantuano opened his newest restaurant, Lorenzo, in November 2013 — this time in South Beach.

  • On April 8, 2013
    Tony Mantuano answered the question: Tony Mantuano

    What inspires Tony Mantuano?

    I think the country of Italy inspires me. Ingredients inspire me. Working with the next generation of young chefs is really inspiring. More so than anything else, it’s what people tell you when you talk to them. People who are dining in the restaurant or outside of the restaurant when you’re walking down the street and someone just tells you, “I love your food.” And I say, “Thank you very much,” and it just makes my day. It’s really inspiring to know that you are making people happy.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Tony Mantuano answered the question: Tony Mantuano

    How did Tony Mantuano get into the culinary world?

    It’s part of my family’s culture. My grandparents owned a mom-and-pop grocery store in the town I grew up in, and we were always in the garden. He was a butcher, she was a great cook. Every holiday was all about food. It’s just something that brought me a lot of pleasure as a youth. I went to college as a music major and pretty soon found myself cooking in restaurants to support myself and actually enjoying that more than music, so that’s basically how it all started.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Tony Mantuano answered the question: Tony Mantuano

    How does Tony Mantuano come up with his menus?

    That’s the easiest thing to do. We travel to Italy a lot; we’re so inspired by so many different regions. Good Italian food in this country has been so popular for so long, but yet you keep finding more and more regionally. The cuisine of Molise, of Calabria, of these regions that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface — there’s just so much inspiration. You just try to see what’s missing in the market, and you try to do something that you feel passionate about. Hopefully, it all works and people show up, and you like what you do.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Tony Mantuano answered the question: Tony Mantuano

    What is Tony Mantuano doing in 2013?

    The next thing we’re doing is opening the new restaurant in South Beach in Miami. My business partners are renovating a boutique hotel and they’d like to have me and some of my people cooking there.

    I think it’s probably going to open sometime around late spring. We opened a pizzeria in 2011 in Chicago called Bar Toma, and they really liked how that has come off and the success that we have had there. The new restaurant in Miami will be called Bar Lorenzo. It will be similar to that, but with a bit more of an extensive menu. Spiaggia’s a fine-dining restaurant, Café Spiaggia is a little more casual; so it will be a combination of Café Spiaggia and Bar Toma.