‘Everything must be experiential’: Onesti brings personal touches to Rock ‘N Ravioli in St. Charles

Ron Onesti says his new St. Charles restaurant will be his “signature venue.”

Inspired by an unlikely combination of his family’s Italian heritage, his love of rock ’n’ roll and the history of a building that dates to the 1920s, Rock ‘N Ravioli is Onesti’s most personal restaurant to date.

“I tried to combine the three elements, which I know is ridiculous, but I’m ridiculous sometimes,” Onesti said. “It’s gonna have all my favorite things, and hopefully people will like it.”

Located in the same building complex as the Arcada Theatre, at 105 E. Main St., the classic Italian restaurant will feature Onesti’s favorite personal recipes, with an emphasis on creative ravioli dishes he’s come up with over the years.

  Rock ’N Ravioli will be the newest addition to the dining options at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Rick West/

The restaurant is expected to open to the public later this month.

“I’m not a trained chef, but I grew up in an Italian kitchen and I love ravioli,” he said. “The ravioli experience brings me back to my childhood when the fresh pasta was drying on all our beds and we had to sleep on the floor Saturday nights because Sunday was ravioli day. My mom would have the noodles drying all over the place.”

Rock ’N Ravioli will feature Ron Onesti’s personal recipes, including his short rib ravioli with a demi-glace sauce. Courtesy of Rock 'N Ravioli

The menu will include Onesti favorites like his chicken Vesuvio ravioli, stuffed with smoked white meat chicken served in an olive oil, garlic, white wine and rosemary sauce topped with cubes of Vesuvio potatoes and fresh peas; braised short rib ravioli served in a demi-glace sauce; and Maine lobster ravioli, served in a roasted tomato garlic cream sauce and topped with a 4-ounce lobster tail.

“For me, it’s all about flavor,” he said. “Just like with the decor, I try to meld different aspects that you normally wouldn’t have together.”

  Rock ’N Ravioli will open to the public in April in St. Charles. It has served as an event venue for the past year. Rick West/

While it hasn’t yet opened for regular daily dining, the restaurant has been serving as an event space for private parties and special packages with shows at the Arcada Theatre since last year.

“It worked out well from an operational and development standpoint,” he said. “I’ve had a really good year of R & D with the menu and the space to get ready to open full time.”

Ron’s Famous Rock ’N Roll Meatballs will be featured on the Rock ’N Ravioli menu in St. Charles. Courtesy of Rock 'N Ravioli

He did the same thing with Rock ‘N Za next door, a rock ’n’ roll pizza experience with vintage rock pinball machines that recently opened four days a week. That spot features Onesti’s Pizz-O concept, a thick pizza with a flavored, focaccia-style crust.

“Every bite is just a great flavor experience that you rarely get with pizzas,” he said. “People are loving it.”

Both new restaurants are part of a bigger expansion of Onesti’s St. Charles entertainment venue, which centers around a renovated Arcada Theatre and includes the Club Arcada speakeasy and restaurant, lobby bar BarCada with video gaming and the Studio 64 disco. They’ll also soon add The Arcadian Suites, which will feature 11 music-themed hotel super-suites.

  A collection of signed guitars lines one wall of Rock ’N Ravioli in St. Charles. Rick West/

“The intention has been to figure out a way to have these different enterprises and have them all tie in,” he said. “It’s like a mini Caesars Palace.”

The 120-seat Rock ‘N Ravioli is filled with antiques and personal touches from Onesti’s collection, including a piano from the 1800s, a collection of signed guitars he’s collected from performers over the years and an enormous bar that once belonged to Al Capone.

The bar will serve prohibition-era craft cocktails as well as Italian classics.

  Ron Onesti had a mosaic tile mural handmade in Italy that depicts elements of his family’s heritage. Rick West/

A stage in one corner of the restaurant allows for intimate musical performances, while a wall on the opposite corner that separates the open portion of the kitchen is covered in a mosaic tile mural that he had handmade in Italy that depicts pieces of his family’s history.

“The number one word in my world is experiential,” he said. “It’s not just dinner, it’s not just drinks, it’s not just a show. Everything must be experiential and that’s what we’re trying to achieve here. We want you to be able to experience something you really haven’t before.”

  Rock ’N Ravioli will open to the public in April in St. Charles. Rick West/
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