Labriola Ristorante & Café
John Caputo grew up one of three sons in an Italian-American home in New York City. Cooking was a competitive sport in their home. Everyone needed to have a cooking skill in order to take part in their large family occasions, therefore he found his niche early and learned how to shuck oysters.
His career began with culinary school in San Francisco, a year cooking in the south of France at Michelin-rated restaurants and then back to work with star chefs throughout the San Francisco area, where he accepted the position of sous chef under Chef Jan Birnbaum at Campton Place Hotel, a small boutique hotel in San Francisco. He later became Chef de Cuisine at Restaurant Gary Danko near the fisherman’s wharf, followed by a stint as Executive Chef at the acclaimed Jordan Winery in Sonoma County, CA.
In 2001, Caputo took the helm of the kitchens at Bin 36 in Chicago, where he had the chance to return to his Italian roots. “I was able to leave elaborate presentations by the wayside and concentrate on great ingredients presented simply,” says Caputo. Later, Caputo worked with the Bin 36 team to open the beautifully simple, A Mano, which paid tribute to Italian cooks making delicious food.
This year, Caputo has found a new home with Labriola Ristorante & Café on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. At Labriola, Caputo seeks out the best ingredients for his traditional Italian dishes, but looks to put a slight, modern twist on the classics. “I want the dishes to be recognizable and approachable, but still be interesting and exciting.”