Writer / Seth Johnson
Photographer / Belinda Russell
For many restaurants, the coronavirus pandemic has created some very difficult hurdles. In the case of Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar in Fortville, however, these hurdles were made more manageable, thanks in large part to the restaurant’s faithful patrons.
“We did pretty good during COVID-19, making carryout and delivery,” says Cortona’s owner Simone Lucarini. “Now, we’re back on track. We can’t wait to open at 100% capacity on July 4.”
Located at 209 S. Main Street in the heart of Fortville, Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar serves up authentic Italian food, with dishes inspired by Lucarini’s hometown of Cortona in Tuscany, Italy. In staying true to this regional Italian theme, Cortona’s also carries a myriad of Italian wines, including many that are specifically from the Tuscany region of Italy.
Started back in December 2018, Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar is a lifelong achievement for Lucarini, who’s spent much of his life in the kitchen.
“I was born and raised in Cortona, in Tuscany, and I started to cook when I was 16 or 17, looking at my mom and grandma and how they used to cook,” Lucarini says. “My grandma passed away, so my mom kept the tradition alive. And then, it was my time.”
The menu at Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar reflects Lucarini’s authentic Italian roots. Customers won’t find items like spaghetti and meatballs or fettuccine alfredo on the menu. Instead, Cortona’s offers uniquely crafted Italian dishes inspired by Lucarini’s hometown.
Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar serves up homemade pasta daily. Entrees typically feature pasta paired with a handcrafted, specialty sauce and either veal, chicken breast or seafood. When asked about standouts on the menu, Lucarini lists off several.
“We have Tortellacci, which is tortellini but bigger,” he says. "They’re filled with ground veal and it comes with a bourbon truffle sauce. We also have the Crab Ravioli, and that comes with a cherry bourbon red pepper sauce.”
When scouting out a location for his restaurant, Lucarini says he was drawn to the small-town feel of Fortville. So far, he’s been rewarded for his decision to start a fine dining establishment in the area.
“We were looking for a nice, up-and-coming area — a village town,” Lucarini says. “We found Fortville, and now we’re here. We’re happy with this community, the Fishers community, and Geist. The Geist community especially has been a big boost for us. Fishers as well.”
Going forward, Lucarini hopes to continue on his successes with Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar.
“So far, we’ve done a great job in terms of quality of food — I base my business on quality,” Lucarini says. “We want to be the best place on the northside to enjoy fine dining cuisine.”
Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar is located at 209 S. Main Street in Fortville. You can call them at 317-747-4242, or visit their website at CortonasItalianCuisine.com.