WOOD DALE – Forno Palese Baking Co. has been open for only about three weeks, but their generations-old bread recipes, homemade cannolis and the occasional chorus of “O Sole Mio” that breaks out could bring any customer into Old World Italy.
“It feels like home,” said Bakery Manager Daniella Cirafici.
While she isn’t related to the three Lerario brothers who opened the bakery, she calls them her family.
“It’s the same thing with our customers,” Cirafici said.
Joe Lerario said he’s beginning to recognize regular customers who come in twice, sometimes three times a week. The brothers have even named one of their sandwiches after a regular: the Gino Gambino features roast beef, provolone cheese, romaine lettuce, tomato and Forno Palese’s house or FP dressing.
Like all of their sandwiches, it can be served on fresh-made panini, focaccia, baston or a roll of Italian bread.
Marcello Lerario said he and his brothers wanted to give customers “the traditional Italian experience.”
The bakery’s head baker, Eddie Laera, has been baking bread for decades just the way his father taught him. When he came to the Lerarios looking for a job at their construction business, Fortis Concrete, his childhood friends remembered Laera’s former bakery.
“I told him it would better serve the community by us opening up the bakery again,” Joe Lerario said.
Experienced entrepreneurs, the Lerario brothers combined their business savvy with their Italian heritage. They began making sandwiches like they’ve always done and creating the signature FP dressing.
They researched the numerous Italian delis in the Chicago area.
“They’re very Chicago Italian,” Marcello Lerario said.
While the brothers and Laera grew up in Wood Dale, not Bari, Italy like many of their relatives, they still wanted to offer authentic Italian food and hospitality.
Although their breads are available at grocery stores including Valli, Butura, Eurofresh, Tony’s Finer Foods, Joe Caputo’s and Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Market, Joe Lerario knows customers who travel passed those stores to visit the bakery because they enjoy the atmosphere.
Joe Lerario admits working with his brother every day isn’t always easy, but their new venture with the bakery represents a passion they’ve all shared for a long time.
“Food resolves all problems,” he said.
No matter what arguments they may have at work, he explained the Lerarios can eat dinner together and put it behind them.
“We sit down,” Joe Lerario said. “We eat and all is good.”
Marcello Lerario breaks out in song while he builds a Richie sandwich with mortadella, capicolla, mild sopra, provolone cheese, romaine lettuce, tomato and FP dressing, while his brother and Cirafici laugh like siblings. It’s all part of what makes Forno Bakery so inviting.
“We’re not working, we’re just passing time,” Joe Lerario said.