In their native Sparta, Kallianis siblings Dino, George, and Renee grew up milking cows, pressing oil from olives, and finding that night?s greens in the soil, inspiring a life-long passion for organic cooking. It wasn?t until the family immigrated to Illinois that they discovered another love: Creolo cooking. According to a piece in The Chicago Tribune, the Kallianis clan befriended a pair of Louisiana natives who helped the siblings learn English and introduced them to their first taste of southern-style comfort foods such as barbecue, jambalaya, and crawfish po?boys, inspiring Dino Kallianis to promise to one day open a restaurant in their honor. That restaurant became Captain Porky?s, an establishment that combines the low country flavors the Kallianis kids grew to appreciate with the farm-to-table philosophy of their youth. Locally-grown produce joins wild fish and olive oil imported from the family?s fields in Sparta, yielding platters of walleye pike and king crab or po? boys filled with catfish. For their barbecue dishes, they slow-smoke ribs, chicken, beef brisket, and pulled pork over a pit of dry-rotted red oak wood before slathering each cut in homemade barbecue sauce and pairing them with homemade dinner rolls or cornbread. There?s also homemade baklava, made by their mother Nota, as well as an ever-changing line-up of specials that at any given time could include a beef stroganoff made with wild foraged mushrooms or whitefish Rockefeller, a dish named for it?s popularity amongst New York?s most elite ice skaters.
Diamond Fresh Seafood Market & Cafe is a gathering place for fresh-caught seafood from the far reaches of the world's oceans. As daily hauls of imported and domestically snagged premium seafood arrive, the knowledgeable staff doles out creative café-style meals that include shrimp alfredo and hearty salmon burgers. Customers who prefer to cart home their catches pick up home cooking tips at cooking demonstrations by pro seafood chef Carol Mackey, who reveals the culinary secrets behind potato-encrusted sea bass and other recipes. At the monthly demos, attendees can also bring their own spirits to sip during the presentation and the resident singing trout's lounge act that follows.
Family recipes from across Italy make every spoonful of sauce and melty morsel of mozzarella at Gianni's Cafe remind you of a happy home. Start your evening with ricotta-stuffed baked eggplant rolls ($9.95). Then, trail teasers with a trinity of customizable pasta: Choose your own noodle, sauce, and ingredients with a Romanesque thumbs up or down. Options include pesto and spicy diablo sauce ($13.95 each), with add-ons such as pine nuts ($2.50) and meatballs ($3.50). For those who would rather not choose what they chews, a house specialty eliminates decision-making. Garlic, white wine, herbs, peas, and potatoes erupt from unpredictable veal vesuvio ($21.95); pollo (most dishes are $17.95) and pesce ($18.95–$31.95) are other protein-packed options. In addition to its post-meridian menu, Gianni's also serves lunch at the Kildeer location (open seven days a week), and Sunday brunch in Palatine (open Tuesday through Sunday).
With live jazz music, USDA Prime steaks aged at least 21 days, and the freshest of seafood, Pete Miller's Seafood & Prime Steak is a living tribute to the colorful life of Harold “Pete” Miller. Miller grew up an avid hunter, studied History in college, and earned a Purple Heart as a marine in WWII. He even spent time slinging hats, before eventually settling on becoming a music salesman—a profession that would ignite his love of jazz and lead him to the rhythm-rich city of Chicago. Once settled, he discovered the Davis Street Fishmarket in Evanston where he became a regular, albeit outspoken, patron. He incessantly offered recommendations and recipe suggestions, eventually inciting the chef to hand him an apron and shout, “Do it yourself if you think you know so much!” Miller accepted the challenge and kicked off his culinary career with his usual flair and spontaneity.
Today, the pair of restaurants proudly carrying his name keep his legacy alive, hosting live jazz almost every night of the week, just like he would have wanted. In addition to the regular dinner menu, which features the likes of whole steamed lobsters and bone-in fillets, there’s also a bar menu that boasts more casual eats, such as burgers and sandwiches dressed in khaki slacks. The Wheeling location’s 250-seat patio features a granite bar with room for 50 people, as well as three huge fireplaces.
Throughout his life, Bob Chinn has refused to sit still. He began his restaurant career on the streets of Chicago at age 14, delivering orders of Chinese food on foot. From those streets, he built a business, eventually opening family restaurants in Evanston and Wilmette. The challenge wasn't enough though, and Bob began planning a concept restaurant: a first-rate seafood restaurant located in the landlocked confines of Wheeling, Illinois. The Zagat-rated eatery skyrocketed to prominence, acclaim, and success, earning the number one spot on Forbes's list of the top-grossing restaurants in the United States and completing phase one of its plan to make crabmeat our new currency. The menu reads more like a world map than a list of dishes. Alaskan king crab legs, Maine lobster, and Hawaiian ahi tuna represent the disparate domestic choices, appearing alongside exotic possibilities such as Nigerian prawns and stuffed Asian basa. To retain the characteristic flavors of this seafood, the restaurant flies in entire shipments on a daily basis, proudly filling a display board with that day's list of "jet fresh" choices from around the globe. The Reader praised this uncompromising devotion to quality ingredients, calling the fish "exquisitely fresh." To round out the selection, the chefs also stir-fry chicken and grill steaks that have been wet-aged for 3–4 weeks. Faced with a level of demand not seen since the Smithsonian auctioned off Abe Lincoln's rookie card, Bob Chinn's Crab House expanded its dining areas to accommodate more than 700 patrons at a time. The densely packed tables and booths sprawl throughout multiple rooms, which means visitors can experience the hustle and bustle of the main dining room or take in the back porch's tree-lined views.
After leaving behind their hometown in Greece, brothers Angelo and John Sellis put their entrepreneurial minds together to build a new life in the United States, with their restaurant Palm Court at the heart of their new venture. More than 30 years since greeting their first diners, John and other members of the Sellis family continue watching over the eatery's three dining rooms, learning the names of regular customers and giving them courtesy calls when their favorite specials are back on the menu. The brothers' team of chefs—overseen by Angelo in the kitchen—constructs its long-perfected dishes from foundations of duck, oysters, beef, and seafood as tinkling piano tunes fill the adjacent cocktail lounge, where customers sip signature martinis, wines, or domestic and imported brews.