Executive Chef / Owner
Chef Tony Priolo knew when he was just a child that he wanted to be a chef. Growing up in Chicago, he started cooking at the age of eight with his Sicilian grandmother in her kitchen on the northwest side, and his first restaurant job was as a 16-year-old prep cook in an Italian restaurant near his house. He went on to graduate at the top of his class from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago in 1989, and quickly immersed himself in Chicago’s competitive Italian restaurant scene. Priolo’s style of simply prepared Italian food caught the attention of Chicago restaurant critics and diners in 1997, when he opened Coco Pazzo Café as the executive chef. After a year, he took over as executive chef of the flagship Coco Pazzo, and later was made partner in both restaurants. During his time with Coco Pazzo, he traveled to Italy regularly and even worked for a short time at Da Delfina, a two-Michelin-starred country restaurant in Tuscany, with famed chef/owner Delfina Cioni.
Under Priolo’s direction, Coco Pazzo was honored by many leading food organizations. It won the AAA Four Diamond and Dirona awards, and received high ratings from local and national restaurant writers, including the Chicago Tribune, La Cucina Italiana, Zagat and Fodors. Priolo has also been a regular guest on several Chicago television stations and is known for his support of local charities such as Meals on Wheels Chicago, St. Jude’s Hospital,and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Priolo brings his rustic, clean cooking style to Piccolo Sogno. His philosophy is to find the best ingredients possible for his guests, and he sources specialty items including heirloom vegetables from local organic farmers, fish from the Mediterranean, and Italian “00” pizza flour, San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella from Naples. He says it’s all part of providing his guests with a true Italian dining experience at Piccolo Sogno.