Sabatino's co-owner Enzo Pagni and his brother Angelo have been in the restaurant business their entire lives. Pagni first became aware of Shrimp de Jonghe, a classic, uniquely Chicago dish that was created by Henri de Jonghe at De Jonghe's Hotel and Restaurant around the turn of the 20th Century, while working at Italian Village in the 1960s. The dish debuted on Sabatino's menu when the brothers opened at 4441 W. Irving Park Road in the late 1970s and has remained the same ever since.
Pagni says that the key to their success has been the repeat business that has come from the relationships that they've "built through the years." "We're serving people now where their parents brought them here in strollers and now they have their own families."
For Sabatino's Shrimp de Jonghe, the ingredients are simple: Gulf of Mexico shrimp, parsley, oregano, garlic, garlic powder, black pepper, bread crumbs, butter, Dijon and Italian Chardonnay.
"We take shrimp, sauté with a little bit of butter and a touch of garlic. A bit of wine and we make sure that the shrimp are not overcooked—that's the secret of the dish. We make this Dijon butter breading. Then we put the Dijon breading on top and we finish under the broiler. It bakes the breading there on top of the shrimp."
The dish is "very popular," Pagni says, and is served either as an appetizer or as a main course.
See how Pagni prepares the dish from ingredients all the way to the table in the slideshow above.