Briana DiTommaso Cardone is an Italian/Greek American restaurateur. She and her husband and business partner, Salvatore, are the purveyors of the award winning restaurants, Mambo Italiano Ristorante and Wild Buffalo Italian Gastro Pub, both in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Briana was raised on an Italian vineyard in the Chicago area where she learned the importance of natural organic ingredients in making a quality product for consumption, and to treat everyone at her table as though they were members of her family. She furthered her education in the culinary world, studying under Chef Patrick Chabert, Chef Jean Banchet, and Chef Michel Coatrieux, and has turned her roots and love of food into thriving businesses in her restaurants and her Organic Mom Chef brand. Cardone supports many causes, including Operation North Pole, Feed My Starving Children, Salvation Army, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and local charities. She lives in Long Grove with her husband and three beautiful children—enjoying artistic expression, living an active lifestyle, and continuing her culinary studies while traveling the world with her family.
Mantra? First we eat, then we do everything else.
Best grooming tip? Japanese Camellia Oil.
Guilty pleasure? Valentino Vineyards red port and Love Dark Chocolate filled with almond butter.
Favorite foods? Now that is a hard one as a chef! I do not discriminate when it comes to food. I love all fish and greens, and when in Italy, truly authentic pizza may be my top selection of them all.
Music you love? The soundtrack of my soul is Latin dance music.
Best advice ever given to you? My father told me no matter how intelligent you are, you always take the time and patience to listen and learn more from others.
Best advice you’ve given? I try to impart pearls of wisdom to my daughters every day. In this cruel world, I tell them kindness is so important, and to give as much of it as they can. I also tell them every day as much as I can to turn to and trust God above all people and things of this world.
Earliest memory? I think I was 4, and I was in Aruba with my grandparents. My grandfather was this tower of strength and he pointed to a starfish on the wall of the hotel and he made me feel like the creatures God created are all filled with magic.
When you wake up, you? Pray.
Before bed, you? Pray.
What’s on your bookshelf? All cookbooks and travel books. I am currently reveling in the majesty of National Geographic’s Blue Zones of the World.
You can’t live without? My family.
Love to escape to? Vegas, Italy, and Greece.
Advice you would give to your younger self? There is always time to take your time. Life is such a gift; you must savor every moment.
WHEN IN THE COUNTRY
Your style is? Boho chic.
Can’t leave the house without? A bottle of water and my sunglasses.
Transportation? In winter, my truck. In summer, my husband’s sports car.
Driving music? If the kids are in the car, all Disney or Justin Bieber. If I am flying solo, any Latin Dance Music or ’90s pop.
Place to eat? Other than Mambo Italiano or the Wild Buffalo, I enjoy the amazing Asian cuisine offerings at any location of Shakou Restaurants.
Shop? Downtown Lake Forest.
Best thing about country? All of the nature and forest preserves available to myself and my children.
Worst thing about country? I try to find the positive in everything, but the traffic going into Chicago is less than ideal.
The perfect day is? A beautiful summer day with my family at my father’s vineyard, Valentino Vineyards in Long Grove.
WHEN IN TOWN
Your style is? Sophisticated fashion.
Can’t leave the house without? Sunglasses and cash.
Driving music? Whatever my Uber driver prefers. I like to experience other people’s selections.
Place to eat? My absolute favorite place to visit was called Mexique, but the chef closed that restaurant to open a new one called Tuczo, and I cannot wait to try it.
Shop? Oak Street, Michigan Avenue.
Best thing about town? The history, architecture, energy, and various cultural activities.
Worst thing about town? I truly wish that that our city was safer for families, and I am so thankful for our finest and bravest that dedicate their lives to keeping us safe. I pray they get more resources.
The perfect day is? Taking in all the city has to offer with dear friends on a beautiful, sunny day.