Cafe Borgia 1986

Café Borgia Limited-Edition Cookbook

This momento of our 30th anniversary highlights Chef Jesso's favorite recipes with 4-color illustrations by renowned food photographer, Dan Dry. A timeline of events are intermingled throughout to depict the evolution of the cafe since it opened in 1986. This is a limited edition and includes an artistic slip case cover.

Cafe Borgia 1986

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!

Karen Jesso
Café Borgia

Café Borgia Customer Favorites

According to customer feedback, some of the most popular menu items

Shrimp and Seashells

Shrimp & Seashells

Asparagus, vodka-tomato cream...a creative seafood selection


Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

A non-potato based gnocchi that gets its flavor from the rich gorgonzola

Homemade Ravioli

Homemade Ravioli

Ricotta cheese, spinach, marinara

Café Borgia Recipe | No.5
  Cafe Borgia Watermelon Martini Recipe

Watermelon Martini

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.

  Lasagna al Forno
NWI The Times | Vanessa Renderman

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...


New Café Borgia Culinary and Dining Tour Video

Take a few minutes to see menu highlights prepared by our team of Chefs. Enjoy the atmosphere--hand-painted murals and artistic blown glass. Your table is waiting! Hope you'll enjoy the video.

  Veal Gorgonzola Recipe
Cafe Borgia Recipe | No.2

Bon Appetit: Veal Gorgonzola with Sweet-and-Sour Red Cabbage

As featured in Bon Appetit Magazine.

  NWI The Times Article

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 Article

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.

Chicago Magazine Article

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.


Will Franklin Loves Café Borgia

Trainer and radio host Will Franklin highlights his favorite dishes.

  Bon Appetit Article
Cafe Borgia Recipe | No.1

Bon Appetit: Cafe Borgia Polenta Torte with Goat Cheese Sauce

As featured in Bon Appetit Magazine.

UOC Article

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.


Cafe Borgia live on Mancow, FOX Chicago

Chef Keith Jacobs introduces Mancow to Cafe Borgia. Featured menu items include Chicken Vesuvio, Shrimp & Sea Shells and Stuffed Strawberries.


How we make Ravioli

Get a close-up of the preparation from start to finish of one of our most popular specials--Lobster Ravioli. Notice that each pasta "pillow" is hand made with the freshest ingredients. When it comes to pasta, only our Homemade Lasagna can compete!

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