Windsor·Pinto on Food

Facing economic uncertainty in Italy, family opens bistro in Windsor

Facing economic uncertainty and the elimination of services for their son with cerebral palsy in Italy, Ivana Perfetto and Giampiero Mastracci moved back to Windsor and opened Perfetto Bistro Bottega in Pillette Village.

Jonathan Pinto learns the backstory of Perfetto Bistro Bottega, a new business in Pillette Village

Right to left: Ivana Perfetto with husband Giampiero Mastracci, son Jordan Mastracci, daughter Loren Mastracci and sister Donatella Perfetto. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

After 25 years in Italy, Ivana Perfetto and Giampiero Mastracci uprooted their lives to open a bistro on Wyandotte Street.

Why? The family says it comes down to the struggling Italian economy.

"The middle class have become poor. A lot of families have lost their jobs, they're losing their homes," said Ivana Perfetto. "Thousands of businesses have closed."

Perfetto Bistro Bottega is on Wyandotte Street in the heart of Pillette Village. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Originally from Windsor, Perfetto met her husband Giampiero during a vacation in Italy. After a few years together in Canada, the couple moved back to Italy in 1993. He worked as an electrical engineer, and she worked as a policy analyst for the British Embassy in Rome.

A few years ago, the two began to talk about moving to Windsor and opening a little bistro and bottega, or grocer. Initially, the notion was lighthearted, but as the economy worsened, plans became more serious.

The final straw was when government services for their son Jordan were eliminated.

Ivana Perfetto (right) with her son Jordan Mastracci. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

"Jordan has cerebral palsy, but he does walk a bit. Cognitively, he's also delayed," Perfetto explained. In the area where they lived, 40 kilometres south of Rome, Jordan's schooling, day centres and access to personal support workers were cut.

"They've abandoned ... a minority group. That's why we decided to come back home [to Canada.]"

The family moved to Windsor last July, joining their daughter Loren, who moved to Canada in 2010 to attend university. While Jordan doesn't yet qualify for services here, Perfetto says life is better in Windsor.

"[In Italy] there's no hope that any services are going to be given back," she said. "Here instead, there's hope. I know you have to wait ... but there's light at the end of the tunnel."

Freshly baked wine cookies. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

After months of renovations, the family opened Perfetto Bistro Bottega in the heart of Windsor's Pillette Village in January.

Every day, Mastracci prepares fresh pasta, bread and other baked goods, heavily inspired by his family's bakery, which has been in operation since 1890.  A curated selection of Italian groceries is also offered.

Interaction is encouraged at Perfetto. Loren fondly refers to her brother as the bistro's official greeter, noting that he's not afraid to join diners seating at the large communal table in the centre of the bistro.

Tap on the player to hear more.

Perfetto Bistro Bottega is located at 4783 Wyandotte St. E. in Windsor.

CBC Windsor reporter Jonathan Pinto travels across southwestern Ontario as Afternoon Drive's "food dude." Know of a place you think he should check out? Email him at jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca or on Twitter @jonathan_pinto.

Giampiero Mastracci slicing porchetta, an Italian pork roast. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)
House-made gnocchi in meat sauce. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)
An emblem from Giampiero Mastracci's family bakery is mounted on the wall. Many of the recipes used at Perfetto have roots to the bakery, which was founded in 1890. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)
Pizza is only available on Saturday. This pie is topped with straccetti, a popular Roman dish comprised of thin slices of beef, arugula, tomatoes and mushrooms. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

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