Influenced by her Italian heritage; the flavors of grandma’s cooking, the fascination of grandpa’s homemade wine, and the big family celebrations including both, Cathy Mantuano knew from an early age she was destined to make a career in food and wine.
While working in the dining room of an esteemed Milwaukee restaurant during college, Mantuano met a young chef with a remarkably similar passion for all things Italian. The couple joined forces and decided to take the best of their respected strengths to Chicago.
Before opening Chicago-based Spiaggia, Mantuano worked in the dining rooms of several Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy including the three-star Dal Pescatore in Mantova and Da Romano on the Tuscan coast in Viareggio.
Since opening and operating a number of successful restaurants, Mantuano went on to write and manage restaurant wine lists; presenting classes on wine, and wine and food pairing.
In 2004, Mantuano coauthored “The Spiaggia Cookbook – Eleganza Italiana in Cucina” (Chronicle Books) with Tony Mantuano. The cookbook was named by FOOD & WINE magazine as one of the top 25 cookbooks of 2004 and was also nominated for a James Beard award. The Mantuano’s share their experiences and recipes from their favorite wine bars in Italy and southern Europe in their second cookbook, “Wine Bar Food” (Clarkson Potter).
Mantuano can also be found teaching in cooking classes and demonstrations about wine and food pairing from DeGustibus at Macy’s in New York’s Herald Square to San Francisco’s popular Ferry Market. She is also a contributor to local Chicago television and radio.
A seasoned professional in the restaurant and wine business, Mantuano consults on restaurants wine lists nationwide. At the 2008-2014 U.S. Open Tennis Championship in Queens, New York, Mantuano created the wine lists for WINE BAR FOOD, two stand-only wine bars that featured recipes from the cookbook of the same name. Currently, Mantuano is the wine director at Terzo Piano, an Italian/Mediterranean restaurant at the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Bar Toma, a casual Neopolitan pizzeria.