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Nicki Koetting, Assistant Editor
4:46 pm CST January 13, 2015

Situated in the Ravinia neighborhood of Highland Park, Merlo’s Italian Restaurant blends upscale with a traditional, friendly atmosphere.

That’s exactly what owner and longtime North Shore resident John Merlo was going for when he opened his nominal restaurant 2 ½ years ago.

Merlo grew up in Winnetka, graduated from New Trier in 1991 and has been in the Chicago restaurant and nightclub business for 20 years. Recently, he and his young family moved from the city back to the North Shore. When he was shopping for restaurant properties, Ravinia stuck out as an obvious choice.