Carmela St. John was born in Chicago but taken to Italy where she lived until the age of 8. Her parents wanted to make sure she grew up knowing and experiencing the culture of her ancestors. Upon her return to the U.S., even though she was an American citizen, she didn’t speak a word of English. Italian was the only language spoken in the home (and she can still read, write, and speak fluent Italian). carmela met and married Hinsdale native Steve St. John 22 years ago. He graduated from Hinsdale Central, and taught at Hinsdale Middle school. They have been living in Clarendon Hills for the last 15 years with their two boys Louis (20) and Nicolas (16). Carmela and her family, along with her sister, have recently opened a take-and-bake pizza business in Hinsdale called Altamura. Besides pizza, they have many interesting specialties. All their products are from Altamura and the Puglia region of italy. “Having my sister here with me and introducing our wonderful foods to America has been a life-long dream,” she says. Being a first-generation Italian, she lives and breathes the culture—from the language to the food. Carmela is also involved in the Young Life organization with her youngest son Nicolas who has been an active participant for the last two years. Here are a few of her favorites from around country and town:
Mantra? You’re never too old to follow your dreams.
Best grooming tip? Keep it simple; less is more
Guilty pleasure? Our hand-cafted gelato; coffee flavor is my favorite
Favorite foods? Ours. We have an incredible pizza made with imported pizza crust. I find myself craving it daily. I also love anything Mexican.
Music you love? Country and anything ‘80s
Best advice ever given to you? My dad used to say, ”Patience is a virtue.” He was so right.
Best advice you’ve given? I’ve been telling my boys to “make good choices” since they were very little. I can say I am very proud of the choices they’ve always made.
Earliest memory? My first day of kindergarten in Matera, Italy
When you wake up, you? Check my calendar to start my day and have my espresso
Before bed, you? After my facial regimen, I like to read.
What’s on your bookshelf? Suze Orman, fictional novels, and framed photos of family and friends
You can’t live without? My husband, my boys, and our Josie
Love to escape to? My attic, where I have an art studio. I can lose myself with a canvas, a paint brush, and oils.
Advice you would give to your younger self? Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up and don’t care so much about what others think.
WHEN IN THE COUNTRY:
Your style is? My style changes with my moods but mostly casual chic.
Can’t leave the house without? My glasses
Transportation? If I am not walking, I am driving.
Driving music? Country
Place to eat? Altamura in Hinsdale and Fuller House
Shop? I love Nordstroms and Via Sparano in Italy
Best thing about country? The close-knit community where I raised my boys
Worst thing about country? It’s hard to knock a place that I’ve called home for the last 15 years where I’ve been blessed to raise my boys but suburban living can certainly be insular.
The perfect day is? Any Sunday. Sundays are our family day.
WHEN IN THE CITY/TOWN:
Your style is? Casual chic, artsy, and elegant
Can’t leave the house without? My phone and my lip gloss
Driving music? Love my country and anything ‘80s
Place to eat? Merlot on Maple, 312 Chicago, and The Velvet Taco
Shop? Michigan Avenue
Best thing about town? The energy
Worst thing about town? Traffic
The perfect day is? Exploring different parts of the city on foot on a beautiful spring day