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26 | January 25, 2018 | The Homer Horizon dining out The Dish Family comes first at Homer Glen’s Tazza Max Lapthorne Contributing Editor The roots of Tazza Italian Ristorante in Homer Glen can be traced back decades to a quaint town just northwest of Naples, Italy, called Teano. That is where Tazza owner Rose Reynders’ grandmother used to live, and is the birthplace of many of the family recipes used at the restaurant today. “In all the years of growing up, my grandmother — who was born and raised in Italy — lived with us,” Reynders said. “My grandmother was such an amazing cook, and she taught us — me and my brothers and sisters — so well. And that’s really what I’ve passed on to the customers. I think that’s why so many people enjoy coming here, because the food is so homestyle.” Those authentic Italian cooking methods are the basis for a diverse menu that has built a loyal following over the last 18 years, including the last eight at the current location, 14065 S. Bell Road. And much of that success can be attributed to the unique cooking style Reyners’ grandmother passed on to her. “They were peasants; they lived on a farm,” Reynders said of her grandparents. “They only ate what they raised and grew on the farm. I learned to cook more of a peasant style. ... You make everything fresh; you don’t waste anything. So, that’s kind of my style of cooking.” The commitment at Tazza to make everything to order has advantages beyond providing the customers the freshest meal possible. “When you come in and The grilled calamari ($15) is one of the most popular appetizers at Tazza Italian Ristorante in Homer Glen. Photos by Max Lapthorne/22nd Century Media The veal Bolognese ($19) is a favorite of Tazza owner Rose Reynders. you order something, you can put in whatever you like, take out whatever you like,” Reynders said. “We can make it to your specifications. That seems to go over really well with our customers. They love that about us, because they can basically come up with their seafood items, which include calamari that comes lightly battered or grilled ($15) and the salmon grigliata ($24), which includes a 10-ounce filet that is grilled and placed on a medley of grilled vegetables. Reynders also plans to unveil a fish-filled Lent menu crafting the Lent menu. “They have good fish there,” Reynders said of the Italian Riviera. “I am going to be incorporating some of those recipes into our Lent menu, because they do so much seafood out there.” Reynders’ personal favorite menu item does not own recipe for what we in the coming weeks. She come from the sea, and is serve.” Some of the most popular and customizable options on the menu are the visited the Italian Riviera for two weeks last summer and plans to use some of the ideas she got there when so popular that one regular customer gets two orders of it to go every time he dines at Tazza. Tazza Italian Ristorante 14065 S. Bell Road in Homer Glen Hours • 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday- Saturday • 3-9 p.m. Sunday Phone: (708) 645-0485 Online: www. “My favorite thing on the whole menu that is a top seller here is the veal Bolognese,” she said. “That is No. 1. That is something I’ve made for many, many years, and just in the last couple years incorporated it into the restaurant. [Customers] love it.” The veal Bolognese ($19) features slow-cooked veal and tomato-based ragù served over fresh pappardelle noodles. The family focus at Tazza extends well beyond the menu. Many of the servers have worked at the restaurant for years, and the chefs have been at Tazza for upward of 15 years. Having such stability with its employees has allowed Tazza to cultivate a family atmosphere. And that extends beyond the employees, as the loyal customer base at Tazza is another important part of the family. Whether it is hanging out at the bar for “Regular Night” on Tuesdays or dinner with the children, Reynders does her best to make customers feel at home at Tazza. “We’re like a big family,” she said. “We’re very laid back. We welcome the kids in here. Half the time, I’m walking around with their baby while they’re eating dinner. “The people are a big part of it because they become like your family, because you’re here with them all the time.” Customers also take full advantage of Tazza’s ability to host events, as the restaurant puts on 100-150 events per year, Reynders said. In fact, the restaurant does not open until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday — and 3 p.m. on Sunday — so the space can be available for private events. Reynders said the loyalty can be seen in this realm, as well. She has hosted bridal and baby showers for some women and then several years down the line, hosted their children’s First Communion, Confirmation and graduation celebrations. “We have such a history and such a following, and that’s really what’s kept us in business for as many years as we’ve been,” Reynders said. At age 63, Reynders still routinely works 14-15 hour days, and her husband often asks her when she plans to retire. But knowing how much she loves what she does, she usually brushes the question off by saying, “maybe next year.” And while she has promised to take more vacations with her husband, Reynders is not ready to hang it up yet. “I don’t see myself going anywhere anytime soon,” she said. But for the good of Tazza, she also will not rest on her laurels. She will continue trying to bring the restaurant to new heights. “I’m always trying to reinvent myself, reinvent the restaurant, reinvent the cooking to keep it interesting and to keep things going,” she said.