LITTLE ITALY — Just 12 hours after telling the kitchen guys they could close up early one January evening, RoSal’s co-owner Joe Fulco got a nasty surprise courtesy of the Polar Vortex.
The restaurant, at 1154 W. Taylor St., had fallen victim to the Jan. 6 Polar Vortex, a frigid blast of air that sent Chicago temps plummeting to 16 below zero, the city’s coldest day since Feb. 3, 1996. A pipe in RoSal’s upper level froze and burst, caving in the ceiling, followed by another pipe breaking on the first floor.
“There was frozen water everywhere, we had an indoor ice rink,” said Fulco, who co-owns the Taylor Street Italian restaurant with his wife Cyndi. “I was like, this can’t be happening to me.”
“It was like, a duo of broken pipes. By the time we came in, the floors were buckled and the ceiling was down. It was bad,” said Cyndi Fulco.
As a result of the massive water damage, RoSal’s — which celebrates 24 years on May 1 — has been closed since the incident. Fulco said the first floor had to be completely gutted and the restaurant’s original tin ceiling replaced. Before the insurance money came in, Fulco even paid his workers the time off out of his own pocket.
“I’ve got 13 families who work for us who needed money. I’m blessed enough, I took care of them,” said Joe Fulco, 58.
Joe and Cyndi Fulco took over RoSal’s (named for original owners Rosanne and Salvatore Perry, Cyndi’s parents) about 15 years ago when the Perry’s decided it was too much work to run the place themselves.
With the April 1 grand reopening, Joe Fulco said the Zagat-recommended menu would stay exactly the same, with classic dishes like eggplant parmesan and lasagne al forno in addition to homemade pastas and salads.
RoSal’s 24th anniversary holds another meaning for the Fulcos; it’s also the same day their second daughter Alexandra Rose was born.
The restaurant will be open Tuesday from 4-9 p.m. Diners can make reservations on RoSal’s website or by calling (312) 243-2357.
“I cannot wait. Seriously I’m so excited,” Cyndi Fulco said. “It just feels like forever and I just can’t wait to get back to what we do.”