The Story of How Convito Café & Market Came To Be…
MYTH: Convito Italiano & Betise had different owners.
FACT: Convito Italiano & Betise have the same owner.
Nancy Brussat (formerly Barocci) and now daughter, Candace Barocci Warner, are Partners.
MYTH: Betise Bistro is gone and no longer in business.
FACT: Betise is still a part of Convito Café & Market. Many Betise classic dishes are on Convito Café’s menu.
MYTH: Convito Italiano went out of business.
FACT: NO, Convito Italiano (across the plaza where Starbucks is now) moved to this location in 2007.
MYTH: Convito Italiano’s store had a bigger selection of items of wine, cheese & grocery items than the new Convito.
FACT: Convito’s Market has the same amount of variety of items – just packed into a smaller space.
Timeline of Convito Italiano & Betise
In 1980, Nancy Brussat Barocci opened Convito Italiano at 1625 Sheridan Road in Wilmette. A long time interest in Italian food blossomed during a three-year residency in England. Brussat made frequent trips to Italy, becoming increasingly enchanted by the regional wines, cuisine and character of the country.
When Brussat moved back to America in 1980, she decided to open Convito Italiano, a shop which would be part grocery, part pasta and sauces, part education center, part wine center, and part deli.
By 1982, the shop was too small to contain all of Brussat’s ideas, so she moved Convito to larger quarters in Wilmette’s Plaza del Lago, with three times the space and three new features; hot foods, an on-the-premise Italian bakery, and a 28 seat Italian cafe serving lunch and early dinner.
In October of 1984, a second Convito location opened in the Chestnut Galleria on Chicago’s near north side: a post-modern, Euro-style shop on two levels, that included a 62 seat white linen tablecloth restaurant and a 35 seat wine bar. The new location was larger (10,000 square feet) and grander than the Wilmette store, but was every bit as dedicated to presenting fresh, authentic dishes in the great Italian regional tradition. The Chestnut location closed in the Spring of 1994. A fire occurred in the kitchen in November of 1993 making it difficult to continue operation.
In 1992, Brussat opened a new, casual Riviera-style French Bistro, Betise, in Plaza del Lago. It featured fresh and unpretentious dishes transported from the Cote d’Azur and the lively Bistros of Paris to a warm, honey-colored artfilled setting.
In 2006, since the rented building where Convito Italiano stood (where the current Starbucks is) needed major repair, and a small retail shop was for rent next door to Betise, Brussat and her daughter decided to move Convito Italiano over to the Betise location and expand into the next door vacant space. Plans began for the transformation that would occur in January 2007. In order to continue to please BOTH the loyal dining-in customers from Betise and Convito Italiano, Brussat and Warner decided to combine the French bistro favorites of Betise and the homey Italian pastas and appetizers from Convito Italiano together to form the new Convito Café menu. In the market, all the same items are available for sale, in a slightly smaller space. Convito’s market still has a large variety of mainly Italian wines, imported and domestic gourmet groceries, prepared foods, a multitude of cheeses and meats, baked goods, as well as catering and gift baskets.