Over 100 Years of Quality
When you step into the warehouse of Joseph Antognoli & Co. on Pulaski Road and take a deep breath, you will smell some of the most pleasant aromas in Chicago. A hint of imported Parmigiano-Reggiano paired with Prosciutto di Parma that coincides with the delicate aroma of pannetone. All the while, espresso fills the air, which composes a sensual symphony that has played gloriously for over 100 years.
In the ten decades since Joseph and Louise Antognoli founded the company, it has been shipping some of the best Italian food, produced both in Italy and America, to specialty food stores and delicatessens in the Midwest and throughout the country.
Why are there so many prosperous clients for this particular wholesaler of Italian foods? “For over 100 years, we have been selling only the best. We have been giving the best possible service too,” says President Mitch Formato. Occasionally, President Formato will put an order in the trunk of his car and drop it off on the way home if a customer needs it right away. During a blizzard in 2011, Mitch Formato (a Vietnam veteran), one of the longest serving employees made stops throughout the Chicagoland area when most truckers refused to go on the interstate highway.
Other wholesalers may talk about “quality” and “service,” but Joseph Antognoli & Co. has been doing it every day for over 100 years; and it has paid off, not just in repeat business, but also in retaining hard working salespeople and executives. For example, Carmella Lizzo, who started in 1989, is still with the company to this day mixing the family giardiniera recipe to perfection. Pino Salerno, a salesman who started 27 years ago, personally visits each one of his clients to see how he can best suit their needs. Yet, Mitch refuses to take success for granted saying, “business is good, but the competition has never been more intense.” Joseph Antognoli & Co. now handles more than 600 different products, constantly re-evaluates existing products, and introduces new ones, including products that aren’t of Italian origin.
“Joseph Antognoli & Co. sets the standard of excellence”
Joseph Antognoli & Co. is the Midwest’s largest distributor of Italy’s No. 1 brand of coffee, LavAzza. Antognoli also imports familiar brands such as Il Duomo olive oils and Riscossa pastas, plus a full line of canned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and Italian cheeses. Antognoli even manufactures a number of deli items under the Pagliacci label, like the hot pepper spread, made from their famous giardiniera. In the vast and modern Antognoli kitchens, an experienced crew works alongside an expert chef and produces a wide variety of products from recipes that date back to the turn of the 20th century.
Whether it is the Antica Italia line of olive oils, the new Bono line, which features a plethora of Sicilian products including: olives, organic olive oil, and jams, or the wide range of Pagliacci products, Joseph Antognoli & Co. sets the standard of excellence. Never one to rest on his laurels, Mitch Formato travels to the giant food show in New York every year to see if he can raise that standard. In this way, Antognoli customers get only the best.