Authentic Italian cafe and restaurant opens in Evanston


Adnaan Zaffer/The Daily Northwestern

La Macchina Cafe opened Monday in downtown Evanston. The restaurant, 1620 Orrington Ave., sent its chef to an Italian city to prepare for the opening.

Jennifer Ball, Reporter

A new restaurant and cafe in downtown Evanston hopes to bring the authentic Italian experience to its customers.

La Macchina Cafe opened Monday at 1620 Orrington Ave. Owners and Evanston residents Chris Casas and Marco Ferrarini also run Coffee Speed Shop, a coffee roaster in Evanston that is featured at the cafe.

With La Macchina Cafe, however, they hope to attract customers for more than just a cup of coffee.

“What makes us unique is the authentic Italian experience a customer will receive, from our ingredients to our menu selection,” Casas said.

The owners even sent their chef to Bologna, a city in northern Italy, to prepare for the cafe’s opening. The chef spent a week in the city, experiencing the authenticity of Italian restaurants, learning to make handmade pasta and finalizing the menu, which includes homemade bread and pastries as well as Italian soups, salads and sandwiches.

“We felt the best way to train him was to take him there,” Casas said. “He came back with some fantastic recipes.”

The owners have also looked to Italy for inspiration.

By the end of the week, they will hang vintage Italian motorcycles by chains from the ceiling, said Casas, who also races them. He also built the tables, chairs and wine racks by hand from repurposed materials.

The restaurant’s Facebook page invited customers to a lunch and dinner tasting that ends Wednesday. The tasting menu was also posted on the Facebook page, and a full menu will come out later in the week.

The restaurant will offer a wide variety of Italian beverages, including 15 to 20 types of wines and traditional Italian cocktails. The owners are working with FEW Spirits, a craft distillery in Evanston, as well.

The official opening party will be held at the beginning of November.

As he bought a cup of coffee there Tuesday, Evanston resident Michael Bernard said he likes “the industrial feel of the place.”

“It gives a certain flair,” he said.

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Twitter: @jennifercball