Restaurateur Francesco Panella Announces Partnership with Gioia

Authentic Italian ristorante Gioia (1133 W Randolph St.) is now sharing their joy to a wider Italian audience through their new partnership with Italian restaurateur and television host Francesco Panella. As an international restaurateur and entrepreneur, Francesco Panella has always been inspired by the stories and traditions which are honored through food. In his partnership with Gioia, Francesco will oversee brand development, food and beverage programming, and restaurant operations with the Chicago team.

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Image Credit: Clark Kent Agency

In tandem with Francesco Panella’s new partnership with Gioia, Gambero Rosso, the most important multimedia brand in the Italian food and wine world, awarded Gioia a seat in its Top Italian Restaurants 2023 guide. The guide maps the best Italian restaurants on a global scale, expertly selecting the restaurants that transform eating into traveling and that authentically embrace the Italian ideal. Francesco’s trusted expertise is already elevating Gioia’s presence, turning this beloved restaurant into an internationally celebrated eatery.


Born and raised in Rome, Francesco grew up in the restaurant industry with Antica Pesa, his family-owned establishment since 1922. He transformed this singular restaurant into an internationally acclaimed brand, established worldwide in the culinary scene with a location in Brooklyn since 2012. This energy and determination have also been shared through his popular television programs Little Big Italy, Brooklyn Man, Il Mio Piatto Preferito, and Il Cacciatore di Teglie, aired throughout Europe on Warner Brothers Discovery Channel and the Italian food network, Gambero Rosso. Panella’s taking his talents in identifying beloved authentic Italian restaurants around the world from Rome to New York to Chicago where he’ll share his joy for Italian cuisine at Gioia.


“Gioia is a place where guests walk in and feel as though they’ve been instantly transported to Italy, and Italians walk in and feel right at home. We invite guests at Gioia to celebrate the connection between food, friends, and family, as we do during each meal in Italy. The menu, drinks, service, and hospitality all showcase our Italian culture” says Francesco Panella.

Meaning “joy” in Italian, Gioia bridges Italian traditions with contemporary refinements, thanks to its native Italian owners and chef. Embodying authentic Italian cuisine and with decades of experience in international kitchens, the team of Gioia takes their inspiration from locally harvested ingredients – as customary in Italian cuisine – Gioia prides itself on sharing its joy of Italian culture and cuisine in the heart of Chicago’s trendy West Loop neighborhood.

Since opening in June of 2021, standout signatures have emerged from Gioia, including the Orecchia di Elefante, or “Elephant Ear”, a Grissini-breaded double veal chop milanese, served with chips and arugula, and the Gioia Nei Paccheri, a handmade paccheri served with fresh tomato sauce and 22-month aged Parmigiano, both served in unique tableside preparations.


Francesco Panella and the team at Gioia are collaborating to create an experience which transports you directly to Italy from the West Loop. The menu builds on those signature items and incorporates an Italian interpretation of the abundance of the season, with dishes including:

  • Tonno Tonnato, is an interesting interpretation of a classic antipasti dish featuring seared ahi tuna, creamy tonnato sauce and roasted baby vegetables

  • Orecchiette, this famous Apulian pasta dish combines Orecchiette pasta with Berkshire sausage, broccoli pesto, rapini and Pecorino Romano

  • Pici Toscani, a handmade Tuscan Pici tossed in a rich Tuscan meat sauce and finished with 22-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano

  • Branzino alla Griglia, a grilled butterflied mediterranean sea bass served with a charred half lemon and Sicilian Caponata

About Gioia

Gioia is a contemporary Italian restaurant that celebrates Italy’s gastronomic culture. Inspired by the elegance and tradition of Italy, plus the energy and sophistication of Chicago, Gioia is a lively destination that shares the authentic experience of Italian dining. Every element of Gioia, from the dining to the beverage program was created to spotlight the best of Italy. Featuring both classic Italian dishes and modern interpretations from its Italian ownership, the menus reflect the cuisine found across Italy by using imported ingredients from historic brands and small producers as well as fresh produce sourced from local purveyors.

Featured Image: Gioia