WESTMONT – When Tommy Davino was 14, he started washing dishes at his family’s pizzeria in Chicago. Soon, he realized he wanted to stay in the business.
“That’s it, this is what I’m doing for the rest of my life,” the Oak Brook resident recalled telling himself. “I knew it way back then. I love it and I take pride in it.”
The restaurant is Pompei Little Italy, which Davino’s great-grandfather opened in 1909 on Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood. Davino said the restaurant, which was named after a community church, originally started as a small bakery, only serving bread and cheese pizza.
Now, almost 30 years after he first washed dishes at the Chicago pizzeria, Davino is opening up his own Pompei in Westmont, the restaurant’s third location.
“We live in Oak Brook, so we wanted something close,” Davino said. “We came across this store and it was too good to pass up. It’s a great opportunity and I think it will be a nice compliment to Westmont.”
The Italian restaurant will occupy the former home of Emmy’s Family Dining, which closed in summer, at 200 W. Ogden Ave.
While Davino’s parents run Pompei on Taylor Street, he will be the primary owner and operator of the new location.
“[My parents] are pretty much ready to retire and start settling down soon,” Davino said. “They’re still young and working everyday, but I have a family; a wife and two children. I need my own thing. I’ve been doing it for about 30 years now, it’s about time.”
He said he wants the restaurant to align its Taylor Street roots.
“This will be our spring board store from the original,” he said. “I’m bringing old school Taylor back. I’m going to make the pizzas on the front line and when you order your salad they’re going to make it right in front of you.”
The pizzeria also will include healthy alternatives for customers by switching to sea salt, organic specials and a gluten-free menu, he added.
Davino hopes top open in late October.
“We were always family owned,” Davino said. “But a lot of places you go, you lose customer service and there’s no personality. I want to make it as much of a family atmosphere as possible.”