La Vera Cucina


For nearly thirty years, Joe Spata has helped make guests at Vitorio’s Ristorante, in Glen Ellyn, IL, feel like they are in the middle of a happy family party. This “at home” style atmosphere is reinforced by the restaurant’s open cucina, where guests enjoy seeing their meals made to order. Joe attributes his success to always buying superior ingredients and charging more accordingly.

Here Joe shares his family’s recipe for a traditional southern Italian specialty called giambotta (“jam-boh-tah”). He says that his family’s giambotta tastes even better the next morning, mixed with eggs and made into a hearty frittata!


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ pound Italian sausage (bite sized pieces)
  • 1 red bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • ½ cup black olives, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup water or stock
  • 3 medium white potatoes, quartered and fried
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves (torn)
  • 2 or 3 medium crostini slices (for garnish)
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano (grated)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


Heat large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add extra virgin olive oil, onions, red pepper, and sausage. Cook for six to eight minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions and peppers become tender. Reduce flame to medium, add garlic, and cook for another minute. Add mushrooms and olives, season with oregano, and heat for several more minutes.

Once mushrooms begin to brown, deglaze pan with white wine. Add water, potatoes, salt, and pepper; cover and simmer ten minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in fresh basil and butter until evenly distributed. Plate giambotta, top with crostini slices, and dust with Parmigiano Reggiano. Enjoy immediately! Makes four generous servings.

About Giambotta (Jam-boh-tah):

Giambotta (also called ciambotta, ciamotta, cianfotta, or “jambot”), is a popular piato povero (poor man’s plate) across southern Italy and Sicily. Originally, it served as a practical way for peasant families to make whatever fresh vegetables they had on hand go further by cooking them down into a flavorful, nourishing minestre (min-ess-trey), a thick soup or stew. Regional variations of giambotta include locally popular vegetables (e.g., artichoke, eggplant, tomato, zucchini, green beans, etc.). Many recipes are strictly vegetarian, while others include bite sized pieces of meat (e.g., sausage, fish, boiled beef, or chicken, etc.). In Italian dialect, the term “giambotta” is also sometimes used to describe a mixed up or messy situation!