Lemont family of 9 keeps Baldinelli Pizza cooking in Hinsdale
HINSDALE – Take away everything that’s R-rated about Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” and it becomes a 30-minute film about enjoying meals together, good friends and family values.
That’s the scene at Baldinelli Pizza in Hinsdale, where four months ago the Distasios, a family of nine from Lemont, became the owners of the 30-year-old pizzeria.
While owning any business has its challenges, being able to work with his family has made it extra special for Tom Distasio, one of the owners, who has always been accustomed to being a part of a large, tight-knit Italian family.
“I grew up with six brothers and every Sunday when my mother would make meatballs that would be our breakfast,” Tom said with a laugh. “Then if we had pizza over night from Saturday to Sunday ... the Italians joke that pizza is their Sunday coffee.”
Baldinelli has been in Hinsdale since 1982, but for out-of-towners it may be the best kept secret in DuPage County. The storefront is located at 32 Hinsdale Ave. and is only viewable heading north along Garfield Avenue. But that hasn’t stopped the restaurant from staying busy with both loyal and new customers.
“We’re in a crazy place being in the back here, but if you have good food people know where to go,” Tom said.
Joining Tom is his wife LoriAnn and their children Tom Jr., 27; Regina, 26; Daniel, 22; Vince, 21, Anthony, 17; Timothy, 15; and Jacqueline, 14; who accompany their parents as they do everything from managing to answering phones, making and cutting pizzas, making sandwiches and keeping the restaurant spotless.
LoriAnn said so far she’s enjoyed meeting all sorts of nice people, and it’s been great for her and Tom to see the kids get involved. Since taking over the restaurant though, there’s been a sacrifice she’s made that to some would be a relief. She misses cooking meals for her entire family during the week.
“I enjoyed it,” LoriAnn said. “We’ve been kind of preoccupied with this, but I miss it.”
Now the family is enjoying meals together at the restaurant, and since taking ownership of Baldinelli in July, the family has expanded the sandwich menu and has been using LoriAnn’s recipes, including her Italian beef and meatball recipe, as well as her vodka and Alfredo sauces. But one thing hasn’t changed.
“I kept the pizza the same,” Tom said. “I never changed anything on the pizza that’s the original Baldinelli’s. That’s historic.”
When asked what makes a pizza great, the word “freshness” was immediately uttered as the family cuts every ingredient themselves and all food products are brought in whole.
“You have to make your dough fresh every day, your sauce, fresh cut vegetables, nothing out of a can,” Tom said. “We use the best cheese you can buy, too.”
The new owners also offer a whole wheat pizza and are now open for lunch hours starting at 11 a.m. From the start, Vince said he’s enjoyed “everything” about working at the pizzeria.
“Honestly everything,” said Vince, who is one of the managers. “Just dealing with customers, the experience and bringing in all the different personalities.”
Tom Jr. said it’s gotten to the point now where everyone knows regular customers by their first and last names.
“So and so is here today and you know exactly what they’re going to order,” said Tom Jr., who is also a manger. “There’s a guy every Friday night who orders sauce on the side consistently.”