View Issues Subscribe for FREE
A Family Affair
As the siblings behind Medford’s Illiano Cucina Mediterranea continue the tradition of serving incredible Italian fare to the neighbors they know by name, their extended family of familiar faces continues to grow, too.

by Madeleine Maccar

Lucy Illiano always knew she was destined for the restaurant business. 

Her father and his cousin founded Lamberti’s Cucina in 1989, where she went after every opportunity to help out however and whenever she could in her youth—early proof that she had not only the desire but also the tenacity to make it in a notoriously demanding industry.

“My dad would be like, ‘No, no, you’re just going to be in the way,’ but they couldn’t keep me away, and eventually they just gave up trying,” she recalls with a laugh. “I’ve always enjoyed it, especially interacting with the customers.” 

Lucy and her brothers Gennaro and Claudio—as well as her husband Michael, who runs the kitchen—now comprise the team behind Illiano Cucina Mediterranea, occupying the same space Lamberti’s called home for decades. Since 2009, the next generation of restaurateurs has been bringing their collective lifetime of industry knowledge and passion for serving up authentic and unforgettable Italian fare to customers they know by name at their restaurant that’s invitingly nestled on a scenic lake at the bucolic border between Medford and Marlton. 

“We’ve been in this town for many years, so we have a lot of repeat clientele, a lot of our customers have become like family, and I’ve personally seen some of the staff grow up while working here,” says Lucy, who describes herself as “doing a little bit of everything,” from hiring and managing staff to running the front of the house to even occasionally whipping up some of the menu’s tantalizing desserts.

Lucy and her brothers don’t just have decades of perfected recipes, restaurant management and local connections to their names: The trio keenly understands the importance of extending that warm family feeling to their staff, too, resulting in a close-knit team comprising numerous decades-long employees who are all “a very important part of our successful business.”

Of course, also treating both longtime and first-time customers like family also means respecting any dietary restrictions and taste preferences they request. 

“I think that’s been part of our success, we’re very available, we very rarely say ‘no’ to someone and we’ll try to make every exception to make anyone happy,” she explains. “We don’t just go by our menu, we don’t say, ‘Oh, no, this is how it’s made.’ We customize a lot of our entrees, whether it’s for an allergy or a special request, to please our customers.” 

And they certainly serve a range of guests, whether they’re eating in or grabbing a pizza to go, or those looking to feed an event’s worth of guests. The team is well-versed in helping on-site special occasions go off without a hitch, and can provide off-site catering, too. And while this time of year means a whole lot of holiday parties and festive gatherings—the restaurant even offered its much-anticipated Feast of Seven Fishes three-course meal on multiple evenings for the first time ever this year on account of customer interest—the restaurant is frequently tapped to host wedding and baby showers, birthday dinners, children’s confirmations and graduations, business events and banquet of all kinds, with the restaurant offering “basically our entire menu for off-premise catering and party trays,” as Lucy confirms. 

And for Lucy and her brothers, there’s nothing quite like being a part of their guests’ celebrations. 

“We have families that have had their children’s communion and even christening parties here, and now those children are having their bridal shower here, or they’re having their own kids and bring them to eat here—whenever that happens, it just makes us proud because we take a lot of pride in our business,” Lucy says. “We do see a lot of families coming back, and I love it!” 


Illiano Cucina Mediterranea
(856) 985-2721

Click here to subscribe to the free digital editions of South Jersey Magazine

To read the digital edition of South Jersey Magazine, click here.
Published and copyrighted in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 20, Issue 9 (December 2023)

For more info on South Jersey Magazineclick here.
To subscribe to South Jersey Magazineclick here.
To advertise in South Jersey Magazineclick here.