Peter Burdi wasn't always in the restaurant business.
From 2001 to 2006, Burdi was a real estate investor who specialized in flipping commercial properties. One of the properties he bought was Schweidler & Mewherter, a stationery store located at 8 E. 1st Street in downtown Hinsdale.
"I was looking for a good commercial space and thought it was a beautiful building," he said. "It's a [Hinsdale architect R. Harold] Zook building; I immediately thought it would make a great restaurant one day."
After six months, Burdi decided the business wasn't sustainable and sought out some local restaurateurs in the hopes of fulfilling his vision of opening a restaurant in the 1st Street space. In 2009, Burdi opened with silent partner Jerry Kleiner.
Burdi had taken care of the hard part—finding a good space. The easy part was the cuisine choice.
"My heritage is Italian, my mom is from Italy, and I've been eating Italian food my entire life," he said.
He also appreciated the versatility of Italian food: "You can eat Italian seven days a week."
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The kitchen staff at Il Poggiolo makes homemade pasta fresh everyday. One of Burdi's favorite pasta dishes from the menu is the gnocchi. He said that customer favorites include the penne with sausage and peas, as well as the orrechiete, which was added to the menu two months ago.
"Our pastas are really strong," Burdi said.
Burdi said that his various fish dishes are popular with his health-conscious clientele. There is a fish special every night, and seafood dishes such as salmon, whitefish, and trout outsell pasta.
Il Poggiolo's head chef is Saul Maya, who has been with Burdi since day one. Maya initially worked under Chef Jim Kilberg, who was recently named executive chef at Coco Pazzo in Chicago.
Another aspect of Il Poggiolo's welcoming atmosphere is its well-stocked bar, which is integrated into the dining room.
"Wine sales are fantastic," Burdi said. "People in this area really enjoy their wines."
Il Poggiolo also hosts private parties in the dining room's upstairs balcony, which gave the restaurant its name ("il poggiolo" means "the balcony" in Italian). Il Poggiolo provides catering services, and started delivering in the last six months to surrounding towns including Clarendon Hills, LaGrange, Western Springs, and Burr Ridge.
Even though adding delivery services has increased the workload of the staff at Il Poggiolo—they routinely serve 200 people in house on Friday and Saturday nights—Burdi said the new delivery service has shown positive results.
"It's going really well. It's helped out in terms of business."
Burdi may have started out with an Italian restaurant, but he hasn't limited himself to that cuisine.
In October 2010, Burdi opened Japanese restaurant just down the street from Il Poggiolo at 18 E. 1st St and he's currently looking forward to opening his third Hinsdale restaurant, a "modern tapateria," in October 2012.
The new restaurant will be located in the old Hinsdale Theater building, which was most recently occupied by the Lilly Pulitzer store.
Burdi, who lives in Burr Ridge, has enjoyed working in Hinsdale. His daughter goes to school at and his family spends a lot of time in town. And it looks like he'll soon be spending even more time in the neighborhood.
Once the tapateria opens, Burdi said, "we'll have all three of the major cuisines in town."