Italian cuisine

Customers stock up on Italian cuisine at new Downers Grove restaurant – Shaw Local

Unsuspecting motorists fill their vehicles within 20 feet of some of Downers Grove’s finest Italian fare.

While pumping gas at the Power Mart station at the corner of Belmont and Ogden Avenues, their noses pick up the smell of garlic and they turn around, unable to identify the source. Tucked away in a corner of the gas station, chef Jerry Navarro prepares pastas, sandwiches, burgers and Italian beef at D’Capos Authentic Italian Cuisine while singing Frank Sinatra songs and chatting with his customers while they patiently wait for their lunch.

This winter, Navarro rebuilt the small indoor kitchen space inside the resort to serve his family’s recipes and some of his own creations from the more than 50 years he’s been cooking. As a child, his mother, grandmother and aunt would call him into the kitchen, ask him to help him roll the cavatelli pasta and stir the sauce they made from a pinch of this and a pour of that.

“They showed me and never really wrote down the recipe. They had a science of it,” Navarro said.

He worked at his family’s restaurants, including Navarro in Norridge Park and Pasta Vino in Schiller Park. He worked in the kitchens of fine restaurants and banquet halls and also served hungry guests in bars and haunted houses.

Although the gas station’s kitchen space is unorthodox, you wouldn’t recognize it by the delicious food that emerges on fresh white plates and take-out boxes.

Some of his first customers were staff at car dealerships located in the busy Ogden Avenue corridor. One customer said that since he found the place he came two or three times a week for lunch and often had pasta for dinner. With a friendly wave, he greets Navarro and enjoys the banter on the counter as he patiently waits for his food.

A few renovated wooden planters now serve as long counters where customers can dive into their meals, without worrying about the stares of customers who come to pay for gas or grab a soft drink or lottery ticket.

Navarro’s cuisine is spreading throughout the community and he likes to share his dishes. As customers stop and ponder the sandwich menu, Navarro asks if they want to try his French chicken or his penne with a vodka sauce that perfectly marries a sweet, creamy taste with a hint of spiciness from chili flakes. sprinkled red.

“We’re creating a buzz here,” Navarro said. “People walk into the gas station and the first thing they say is, ‘It smells like my grandma’s house.’ That’s a good thing to hear.

Greg Cutler, owner of Sterling Studio in Downers Grove, discovered the food one afternoon while stopping to refuel. He was so impressed that he hired Navarro to host his company’s annual holiday party, which includes professional home improvement and design services.

“He delivered. The prices were fair and everything was delicious,” Cutler said, adding that he liked to tease staff that he found the food while visiting a gas station.

Navarro said he has access to more kitchen space in town to complete catering orders.

The gas station’s small kitchen is snug, but Navarro is already planning an expansion. He has started work on what will be a small cafe adjacent to the station with take-out options. He hopes the cafe will open later this year.

Regarding cooking, Navarro said, “I found a passion.”

As traffic buzzes outside, Navarro wanders into the kitchen, preparing for the next hungry guest to follow his nose through the doors. Customers bring their friends and colleagues, who often walk in in disbelief at the thought of eating inside a gas station. But with a bite, their questioning faces give way to happy grunts and mumbles between bites about finding one of the best meals in town.