Monday, June 30th, 2008, WEEK played host to a half hour You Gotta Eat Special. Here is Eric Shangraw's visit to Mona's and Capponi's in Toluca.
If you had no sense of history, you might actually believe eating–out was invented at Mona's and Copponi's.
Customers have been making the trek to these two institutions in Toluca for 75 years.
The Bernardi Family owns both restaurants.
Their marquees are a stone–throw from each other on Toluca's main drag.
Mike Bernardi is second generation.
His dad opened Mona's in 1933.
"He just got along with everybody. He never had a bad word to say about anybody. And he cared about how your service was done. How your food was prepared," said Bernardi.
Third generation Tony Bernardi is now charged with setting the course for the next three–quarters of a century.
"The love my family has had throughout the generations (is what makes us successful.) We have all put hard work into the business. The restaurant business is one of the hardest industries to get into," said Bernardi.
Some of the restaurants most loyal customers come from Peoria, Bloomington and LaSalle–Peru.
"This is one great place. I drive from Peoria.
They make you feel like you are part of the family when you walk in the door," said customer Bruce Ashley.
In the kitchen as the dinner rush gets underway, the crew is cooking the first few orders of fried chicken, prepping the lasagna, and coating veal cuts with the special Bernardi batter.
At Capponi's, my mouth targets the bread, dipped in Mona's olive oil which is infused with garlic.
This bread is so good, I'm in real danger of eating too much and then spoiling the rest of my meal. Eater beware!
I order the best of both worlds: chicken and pasta. The fried chicken is not greasy and delivers a crunchy–crazy–good poultry–punch. My pasta comes in two forms, spaghetti and tortellini. Both pastas are drowning in mouth–watering meat sauce.
I don't do dessert. No room. If you order what I did: Spaghetti and tortellini, with two pieces of chicken, salad, bread and iced–tea, it will cost you $12.15 plus tip. Try to beat it in the big city!
If you want to see what 75–years of experience tastes like, take a trip to Toluca.
Mona's and Capponi's are both open weekends and alternate week nights.
Mona's Wednesday through Sunday, Capponi's Friday through Tuesday.
They serve lunch and dinner