The family-focused staff behind this Italian restaurant knows how to create a quality, genuine experience. See what’s inspired the wide menu of classic dishes at this popular restaurant’s two locations.
Joe Ocello knows how to create an authentic Italian dining experience. Since Ocello and wife Francesca opened their first Bravo Pizza & Italian Restaurant location in 2001, the restaurateur has been refining classic Italian fare. He strives to present all the comfort and flavors of a home-cooked meal.
“We work in quality, price and service – those are our three main ingredients,” says Ocello. “I’ve been in this business for 40 years, so we know how to maintain a consistency for our customers. There’s no price that pays for that.”
Both locations of Bravo Pizza provide a genuine escape for diners. The original Bravo Pizza is located at 13555 IL Route 76 in Poplar Grove, Ill.; a second location opened in 2007 at 376 Prairie Hill Road in South Beloit, Ill. Inside both restaurants, you’ll find large wooden tables, warm golden lighting and murals of Italian scenery, inspired by Ocello’s Sicilian homeland. Whether diners prefer carryout, delivery or dine-in, the Bravo staff is committed to presenting a destination that diners enjoy.
The menu is filled with a wide variety of Italian classics, from pizza and calzones to pasta and sandwiches. Pastas are available in special family portions that come with four loaves of garlic bread. Look for American classics, too, such as the Bravo Burger.
Heather Intravaia, Ocello’s sister-in-law and manager of the South Beloit location since 2010, says teamwork is key to Bravo’s welcoming and accommodating atmosphere.
“We all work very well together to make sure all of the bases are covered,” she says. “When a party of 25 people comes in, I try to make sure that we’re able to take care of them right away without any reservation. If someone wants an order before we’re open or after we’re closed, we’re also very accommodating to make sure the customer’s happy.”
At Bravo, customer service isn’t just about creating a great experience – it’s about making everyone feel like family, including employees. Richard Owens, manager of the Poplar Grove location, might as well be family, after working with Ocello for 26 years. Owens finds that the quality of service makes Bravo stand out from other dining experiences.
“It’s always good when families come in, enjoy their meal and say, ‘Man, that was a great meal. You guys did a great job,’” he says. “There’s nothing better than that, the satisfaction of making people happy.”
Most items are made from scratch in the Bravo kitchen, ensuring a truly homemade meal with fresh ingredients. The Italian beef, served au jus or with tomato meat sauce, has been named a top sandwich in the region. Other top sellers include Italian meatball sandwiches, fettuccine Alfredo and fish specials.
“We stick with what works for our menu,” says Ocello. “We make it all ourselves and are very hands-on. Each meatball is about a quarter-pound apiece, so they’re huge. ‘Bravo’ in Italian means good, and I think we are very good. We have a menu we’ve been perfecting for forever, so we know how to do it well.”
Both locations offer a full-service bar, catering, carryout and delivery services. Bravo Pizza is open daily at 11 a.m.