Café Borgia Celebrates 30th Anniversary
Café Borgia opened its doors on December 24, 1986, on Torrence Avenue in Lansing, Illinois, a south suburb of Chicago.
We had only two staff members — Mike and I — the chef/busboy and the waitress/dishwasher. Each day was busier than the one before and we were soon bursting at the seams in that little building, with a line of hungry people waiting to get a table.
Like today, everything was cooked to order and we always provided good value. It was important for us to appeal to our regulars and not out-price ourselves just to attract the occasional diner looking for a bargain. Our staff grew to 14 in Lansing and we functioned like a family, spending many, many hours together back in the day when Italian restaurants in the region were often popular only for their beef sandwiches and pizza, and customers had certain narrow expectations. We did our best to introduce a new menu to the region and to gain approval from both the Chicagoland southside and the northwest Indiana market.
One thing led to another and after 21 years in Lansing, we wound up in Munster, Indiana, a growing community that welcomed Cafe Borgia. Our staff has now grown to 40, with most of the original Lansing team on board, as well as a few who have been with us from pretty close to the very beginning.
We especially appreciate our regulars who have followed us after the move. We had a blast in the past, especially with the BYO in Lansing! But now, we are thrilled to have a parking lot, a bar and private party rooms large enough to satisfy our ever-growing growing demand. We can never thank you enough for 30 great years!
Café Borgia Customer Favorites
According to customer feedback, some of the most popular menu items
A refreshing Watermelon Martini. Try it yourself this summer.
1.5 oz. ThreeOlives® Watermelon Vodka
.25 oz. Monin® Watermelon Syrup
.5 oz. Triple sec
2 oz. sweet and sour mix
Splash of cranberry juice
Step 1. Combine ingredients and ice in a shaker and cover. Shake several times.
Step 2. Pour and serve.
Café Borgia Recipe | No.4
Tiramisu : serves 8
On our menu for 30 years, the Café Borgia version of this traditional dessert is rich with mascarpone and freshly grated chocolate.
2 lb. mascarpone cheese
6 egg whites
10 oz. fresh brewed espresso or strong coffee
2 oz. dark rum
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup grated semi-sweet chocolate
¾ cup sifted cocoa powder
1 bag ladyfingers
Step 1. Line bottom of 8" x 10" pan with a single layer of ladyfingers, side by side, until bottom of pan is completely covered.
Step 2. Using an electric mixer with whip attachment, whip egg whites until stiff. Gradually add sugar to egg whites.
Step 3. Put cheese in a separate bowl. Gently fold egg whites into the cheese.
Step 4. In a separate bowl, mix coffee and rum together. With a pastry brush, brush the ladyfingers with the coffee mixture, using only ½ of the mixture. Ladyfingers should be soaked, but not falling apart.
Step 5. Gently spread cheese mixture evenly over ladyfingers. Sprinkle in ½ of the grated chocolate. Sift ½ of the cocoa powder on top of the cheese.
Step 6. Arrange another layer of ladyfingers on top of the chocolate, side by side, until the first layer is completely covered. Brush remainder of coffee mixture onto ladyfingers. Spread the rest of the cheese on the ladyfingers. Finally, sprinkle the remainder of the chocolate and cocoa powder on top.
Step 7. Refrigerate at least 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Cut in ½ lengthwise and into quarters crosswise. Remove pieces with a spatula and serve on plates or in shallow bowls.
NWI Times Features Chef Mike Jesso’s signature pasta, homemade Lasagne al Forno
It's impossible to confuse the hill across the street from Café Borgia in Munster with the rolling countryside of Europe's boot. But, the only view that matters is when the server clears the bread plate and sets a dish of hot Italian food in front of you...
Shrimp & Seashells Pasta : serves 4-5
Featured by popular demand, Chef Jesso recently added this flavorful selection to the menu. A generous portion of shrimp paired with fresh asparagus and vodka-tomato cream makes this a pasta favorite.
1 lb. pasta shells
¼ stick unsalted butter
3 oz. vodka
3 cups prepared tomato sauce
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¾ cup chopped fresh asparagus
¾ lb. cleaned shrimp, cut into pieces
1 ¼ tlb. chopped fresh garlic
2 oz. olive oil
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Step 1. In a 4 qt. sauce pan, bring 3 qts. of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, cook 7-10 minutes.
Step 2. As pasta is cooking, in a large sauté pan, or shallow pot,
1. heat olive oil, add shrimp and garlic. Saute 2 minutes
2. add vodka (be careful, will flame)
3. add tomato sauce and heavy whipping cream, bring to boil
4. add cooked, hot pasta shells and butter. bring back to boil
5. add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
When sauce has nicely reduced, and sticking to pasta, divide in 4 serving bowls and add some additional cheese if desired.
Bon Appetit: Veal Gorgonzola with Sweet-and-Sour Red Cabbage
As featured in Bon Appetit Magazine.
Fine Italian fare stars at Munster’s Café Borgia
Mike and Karen Jesso have been offering creative Italian recipes to dining fans for nearly three decades.
As owners of the popular Cafe Borgia in Munster, the husband-and-wife team are happy to continue to serve the community and food fans from Northwest Indiana, Illinois and elsewhere...
ZAGAT Comes to Café Borgia
For years, Café Borgia grabbed the attention of ZAGAT. Established in 1986 with very humble beginnings, the reviews were a focus on quality food and wine for good value. In fact, Chef Jesso was complimented for having an “intelligent wine list.” The national recognition that Café Borgia enjoys from ZAGAT reviews is an important part of our media highlights.
Our Years with Chicago Magazine
Back in 1986 when we first opened our doors, the only ambition we had as far as media recognition was to be listed in Chicago Magazine. When the day came and we were selected to be a featured restaurant it gave validation that we were part of a very special group of culinary high achievers. Thanks Chicago Magazine for your attention over the years—a very special part of the Café Borgia history.
Bon Appetit: Cafe Borgia Polenta Torte with Goat Cheese Sauce
As featured in Bon Appetit Magazine.
The University of Chicago Visits Café Borgia
Having studied at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Café Borgia owner Karen Jesso got the attention of the alumni magazine. The editorial staff enjoyed their tour of the Café with discussion over lunch about the Café past, present and future. Thanks, University of Chicago, for the powerful academic tools that were instrumental to our successful business model.