From humble beginnings…
In 1962, with full-time jobs and small children at home, John and George Traverso purchased "Ken and Dick's" tavern in Roseland on Chicago's Southeast side.
Having grown up modestly in Roseland, the decision to borrow the funds needed to venture out was at once gutsy and visionary. Both men were working other jobs (John a high school teacher, George an engineer), and facing long hours and potential struggles to make the new venture a success. In fact, the brothers continued working their day jobs for several months, heading to the tavern after 8-hour day shifts, often working to closing time at 4 a.m.
In those days, the brothers served just pizza and sandwiches, but their long hours and family touch would soon spark a legendary run on the burgeoning Chicago restaurant scene.
The Traverso brothers opened a second spot, "The Pizza House," a carryout-delivery restaurant, in Chicago's Mount Greenwood area in 1965. With a rising demand for Traverso's pizza, John and George opened their third location, around the corner, three years later.
The opening of that restaurant, their first full-service venture, in 1968, brought the addition of "Mama T," the boy's mother. Widowed in 1949 with four children, Lena worked in various area Roseland kitchens, displaying the skills she learned as a child in her parents' hotel in Cesuna, Italy.
The initial "Pizza House" menu was a first for the brothers--it included Lena's legendary meat ravioli, lasagna, bolognese sauce and meatballs, as well as her unrivaled minestrone soup. The public soundly approved.
Following six years of success in Mount Greenwood, John and George ventured west, opening their first self-named restaurant, "Traverso's", on Harlem Avenue in Orland Park. The new restaurant was met with critical acclaim and long lines, and with "Mama T" running the kitchen and 21-year-old Paul Gabriel managing the large staff, Traverso's flourished.
Within a year, the brothers sold their other two establishments to concentrate their efforts in Orland Park. In fact, by popular demand, John and George expanded the restaurant by 100 seats, to 300, in 1975, just one year after their opening.
Still a strong presence in Chicago's south suburbs, "Traverso's" in Orland Park celebrated 30 years in 2004. And despite the passing of "Mama T" in 1999, at age 86, George, John and manager Paul continue to oversee a family tradition more than 40 years in the making.
Expanding to Naperville
In 1993 brothers Mike and Paul Traverso, George's sons, discovered a vacant plot of land in a booming residential pocket of southwest Naperville. Mike was working as a computer engineer; Paul, a south suburban newspaper editor. But the two had often talked of carrying on the family tradition and hoped to find the right spot to open the second "Traverso's." Then, Naperville boasted a population of just over 70,000, but city plans indicated south Naperville was on the brink of a population boom.
The city plans rang true. since 1993, Naperville's population has soared to more than 140,000, much of the growth coming south of 75th street in the city's "sector g." the opening of Neuqua Valley High School, several retail centers, parks and new subdivisions, as well as the widening of several roads, provide striking evidence of Naperville's present and future.
Behind the efforts of manager Jason Trakan and a dedicated staff, Traverso's Naperville has established itself as a neighborhood favorite, providing an expanded menu, catering, delivery, carryout and party facilities. In 2004, Traverso's Naperville completed an extensive remodeling, bringing an old-world yet updated flair to an entrenched Naperville locale.
From the Traverso family, we thank you for visiting our website and look forward to seeing you in the future.
Where We Are Today
Dine inside in our traditional Italian dining room or bar during the winter months and head out back to our outdoor patio and bar during the warmer months. Traverso's patio is one of the few places you are permitted to smoke. Have a cocktail or two and partake in some entertaining Karaoke on Wednesdays 8:00 and Saturdays 8:30.
John Traverso, Owner
Paul Gabriel, Manager
MaryBeth McDonald, Manager