Article Michael Beightol | Photography Stephen Neilson
Wandering into Neoteca in Barrington one early morning the founder of this Hough Street restaurant was nowhere to be found while a pot of beets simmered away on a stove.
Then Guy Sorrentino, the force behind successful restaurants in the Fox Valley and now downtown Barrington, burst through the kitchen doors. “Hello, hello,” he says, picking a table on Neoteca’s spacious deck. “It’s much too nice a day to not be outside.”
Sorrentino focuses on the Neopolitan foods of the Campagna region of Italy. It’s a place he knows well, having lived there during childhood. When discussing his menu Sorrentino emphasizes that he gives his “mom all the credit,” adding that he planned to talk to her about preparing fresh octopus for a potential new dish. “Authenticity is an absolute must. We source as much as possible fresh locally and do a lot of importing from Italy.” While Neoteca offers a variety of dishes – pastas, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and entrees – the restaurant’s heart and soul is pizza, made from scratch and delivered bubbling hot from a wood-fired oven burning locally-cut cherry, hickory and oak.
“Pizza made from authentic ingredients is a trend that never goes out of style,” he says. “Everything we make is hand-made.” Sorrentino travels back regularly to Italy to stay abreast with his craft, including studying under a two-time World Champion Master Pizzaiola.
General Manager Nick Jaros has worked with Sorrentino for more than eight years. “He started as an apprentice and is now a co-owner,” Sorrentino says.
“When guests eat at Neoteca we want our food to be reminiscent of what they might experience in Italy,” Jaros says. Wine selection is a big part of that, as evidenced by an impressive glassed-in state-of-the-art wine cooler. “We have a broad selection of Italian wines that pair well with the pizzas and other dishes we serve,” according to Jaros.
A new venture for Sorrentino, right across the street from Neoteca, is Gnarly Knots. “I’m a flour and water guy,” Sorrentino says. “When I tasted my first pretzel from Gnarly Knots in Winfield it was the best combination of flour, water and process that I ever had.” Sorrentino arranged to open Gnarly Knots in Barrington, and to franchise the concept elsewhere. Think of Gnarly Knots as a quick spot for a variety of pretzels and stuffed sandwiches, such as Italian Sausage, Chicken Pesto and BBQ Beef for dining in or carryout.
Neoteca is at 130 S. Hough St., In Barrington. Go to neotecainc.com to learn more. Gnarly Knots Pretzel Co. is right across the street; gnarlyknotspretzels.com.