John Coletta, a first generation Italian-American, is a chef, restaurateur, author and respected veteran in the Chicago and International culinary communities. As Founding Chef and Partner of Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar, John preserves the authenticity of regional Italian cuisine, through honed culinary techniques and authentic Italian ingredients.
The son of Italian immigrants and former owners of a neighborhood restaurant, John acquired a deep respect for food and an appreciation for La Vera Cucina Italiana at a very young age. John’s summers spent in central and southern Italy also cultivated his interest in Italian gastronomy and culture. While spending time in Italia, the concept that meals were the most important part of the day made it obvious to John what his career path would be, “It was a natural evolution for me to become a chef,” he recalls.
With a hunger to learn from European thoroughbred culinary masters, John set off with his degree in hotel and restaurant management from New York City Technical College. From the legendary St. Regis Hotel and Waldorf Astoria Hotel, to the Four Seasons Restaurant and Le Coup de Fusil, John earned his stripes as an apprentice for revered chefs such as Arno Schmidt, Seppi Renggli, Yannick Cam and Andre Rene. After his seven year rotation among these world-renowned hotel and restaurant kitchens, John went on to train under Alain Ducasse at Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Joel Rubuchon in Paris and Three-Star Michelin chefs Pierre Wynants and Pierre Romeyer in Brussels, Belgium.
With an international view of the culinary scene under his belt, it was no surprise that John’s next step was to command a kitchen of his own. As Executive Chef at Nikolai’s Roof of the Hilton Atlanta, John earned a Four Star Award from Mobil. John next reigned over an army of over 450 cooks in ten different restaurants at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Soon after, he was proclaimed one of the four “big guns” of Asian hotel cuisine by the Sydney Morning Herald, while serving at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore. Through this worldly exposure, John was able to acquire his share of accolades.
John’s reach as a chef broadened when he became a culinary Olympian. An individual gold medalist in the 1984 Culinary Olympics, he went on to snare another gold medal in Frankfurt, Germany in 1992 as part of the Culinary Olympic Team U.S.A. As a member of this team, he developed his now deep-rooted sense of discipline as a chef and earned the title of one of America’s Rising Star Chefs by PBS television.
His expertise on the international stage earned him the opportunity of advising the 1994 U.S.A. Team at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg, which earned first place among competitors from around the globe. At the 1997 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, Chef Coletta shared the billing with the likes of Julia Child and Paul Bocuse as part of the Visiting Masters From the World of Food Program.
While he is a native New Yorker, John’s migration to The City of Broad Shoulders offered him the chance to join the ranks of Chicago’s top chefs. Opening Entre Nous and Primavera at the Fairmont Hotel and the acclaimed Caliterra restaurant in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood as Executive Chef, paved the way for his most promising endeavor.
In 2004, John embarked on a partnership with co-founders Steve Lombardo and Larry Shane to bring his vision of a classic, urban-Italian ristorante to life. John infused Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar’s seasonally driven menu with authentic regional preparations of rustic Italian recipes – many of which date back 200 years. His preparations of house-cured and aged Salumi, such as artisan knife cut Soppressata, Salamette, Fiocco, Carne Salada, Pancetta and Duck Prosciutto, along with cheeses made daily in-house, are a nod to John’s love and respect for La Vera Cucina Italiana. In short, with the creation of Quartino’s menu, John stayed true to the same culinary philosophy that he has held since the beginning of his career: Prepare Italian food, with Italian passion.
Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar opened its doors in December of 2005, and is now entering its twelfth year of showcasing the flavors and traditions of Italia’s most vibrant regions to Chicago diners. Quartino has received three stars from the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times, the recipient of the American Culinary Federation's 2014 Award of Culinary excellence. Under Coletta's leadership also earned the coveted Ospitalita Italiana, which is awarded by the Italian government and recognizes restaurants which uphold the traditions of Italian culture. Quartino has been featured in local, national and international publications including; The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Today's Chicago Woman, Michigan Avenue Magazine, Plate Magazine, National Culinary Review, USA Today Travel, Il Giornale di Vicenza, Italia a Tavola and more....
In 2009, Coletta authored and published 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes, a cookbook dedicated to his passion for La Vera Cucina Italiana. On March 13, 2018 Coletta authors another cookbook entitled Risotto & Beyond, 100 authentic Italian rice recipes for Antipasti, Soups, Salads, Risotti, One-Dish Meals and Desserts. Filled with 80 color photographs, varying Italian rice types and their cooking methods. A passion for authentic Italian products has lead Coletta to be the national spokesperson for Carmelina Pomodori a true expression of Alimentare Italiane. Guest Chef Appearances on the Holland America Line continue to showcase Chef Coletta’s culinary abilities and mastered techniques.
Chef Coletta saw and continues to visualize Quartino as the ideal vehicle for synthesizing the insights derived from his childhood immersion in Italian cooking and his classical training. Coletta strives daily to continue achieving his goal to, "Honor humble authentic Italian dishes and present them as they are meant to be experienced."
About Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar:
As an ambassador for Italian Gastronomy in Chicago, Chef John Coletta offers diners an authentic, urban Italian food and wine experience. Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar features a menu of regional Italian specialties, many made in-house with the highest respect for Italian culinary tradition. The menu includes a wide range of items including Artisanal Salumi, Pizza, Pasta in Casa (house-made) and Seafood. Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar is located at 626 North State Street in Chicago. Quartino is open Sunday-Friday: 11:30 a.m. - 2 a.m., and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 3 a.m. Reservations may be made by calling (312)-698-5000. For more information, visit www.QuartinoChicago.com. Follow Quartino on Facebook, and @QuartinoChicago on Twitter.