For centuries, the kitchen has been recognized in Italian culture as the center of both the heart and mind. This is a philosophy that still holds true today, as seen in the work of chef John Coletta. A first-generation Italian-American, Coletta was born in New York City one year after his parents emigrated from Italy. With his father previously being a professional chef in Rome and his mother an excellent Italian home cook, Coletta quickly cultivated a passion for Italian cuisine.
An award-winning chef who was named by a PBS TV series as one of “America’s Rising Star Chefs,” Coletta first began working in the industry as a teenager, when he would spend his summers working at a family-owned restaurant in Italy. After graduating from New York City Technical College with a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management, Coletta worked at some of New York’s top restaurants including The Waldorf Astoria, the Four Seasons restaurant, and Le Coup de Fusil.
Coletta has trained under legendary chefs like Alain Ducasse and Jöel Robuchon. Throughout the years, he has held several esteemed positions including chef di cucina at Nikolai’s Roof, a fine-dining restaurant located in Hilton Atlanta that earned a Mobil four-star rating during his tenure; and executive chef of Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, where he supervised a culinary staff of over 450 cooks and sous chefs. While serving as an executive chef of the five-star Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore, he was named one of the four “big guns” of Asian hotel cuisine by the Sydney Morning Herald.
After returning to the States, Coletta opened Caliterra Bar & Grille in Chicago’s Wyndham hotel in 1999, which the Chicago Sun-Times named as one of the city’s ten best Italian restaurants. From there, he joined the Carlucci Hospitality Group, where he designed and opened Carlucci Downers Grove restaurant. While the Italian dining concept was a success, receiving three star ratings from the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, Coletta found himself wanting to have more creative control over his menu. In the summer of 2004, Coletta partnered with Steve Lombardo and Larry Shane to create Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar – an authentic Italian restaurant that the trio still runs today.
Since opening in 2005, Quartino has been featured in several publications including USA Today Travel, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Sun-Times. Under his leadership, the restaurant also earned the coveted Ospitalità Italiana seal, which is awarded by the Italian government and recognizes restaurants abroad that properly promote the traditions of the Italian food culture. Quartino Ristorante also received three stars by the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2009, Coletta authored and published 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes (Robert Rose), a cookbook dedicated to his passion for Italian gastronomy.