There is beauty in truth…but it didn’t start out that way. 13-year-old Vincent DiBattista lied about his age on an application for a job at Rosati’s on Chicago’s northwest side. Why? Because he wanted to learn to make pizza. It worked.
In high school Vince morphed into a musician, jamming in a metal band called Euthanasia, which covered groups like Black Sabbath. However, in an all too predictable manner, Euthanasia made its mark and hit its peak early. So after graduation, Vince drifted back to the kitchen, this time applying himself at Kendall College culinary school. After landing a job at Chicago’s fine dining establishment, Ambria, Vince spent his time perfecting preparation and producing beautifully executed dishes, but realized this was not his niche. He wanted to get real.
More interested in exploring the rustic and seasonal dishes of his Italian roots, Vince took a sous position in Michael Altenberg’s Evanston kitchen at Campagnola. He became Executive Chef in 2003 and Campagnola’s following and reputation have grown alongside his own. Campagnola is a dining experience that reflects elegance in its most honest and humble form.
Vince’s devotion to getting real was pervasive. When he purchased his first home, a brick bungalow in Chicago—it became his passion project. He lovingly restored to its original warmth and purpose, and it earned him a prestigious Richard Driehaus architectural award. Even his musical inclinations evolved. Turned on by this idea of “truth”, Vince took up the banjo and the fiddle, and delved into American roots music with teacher and friend Steve Rosen. Vince took home the first place clawhammer banjo prize in Woodstock. He also placed 3rd in the Old Town School of Folk Music’s midwest fiddle championship.
Vince made a fortuitous trip to Altavilla, Sicily to reconnect with cousins, and his fire was lit. Accompanying his family to the market and cooking and eating alongside his relatives, he brought home a simple brilliance he found on their tables. It was this passion that inspired the creation of Union Pizzeria in Evanston, a raucous, cavernous bar and restaurant with a wood fire oven that pumps out daily plates and flavorful tastes. Visits to Buddy’s Pizza in Detroit with his wife Lisa and her family solidified his motivation to bring his Sicilian roots into the 21st century, and Union Squared was born. Old school modesty meets spirited ingredients in a square pan pizza as light and chewy as it is historically rich. No lie.
See Vince playing fiddle.
Written by the Union Squared Team