Chefs call upon the flavors of Rome and Tuscany as they blend tomatoes, garlic, and plentiful herbs into the Italian cuisine of Francesca’s Tavola, part of a Chicago-based family of Francesca’s restaurants graced with positive media attention. Patrons steep in the trattoria ambiance while skewering filet mignon, sea bass, and monkfish on their rapiers. A gluten-free menu pampers palates with quinoa linguine and desserts whose fresh fruit plays over tongues like a salad made from Debussy's sheet music.
BaPi Italian Ristorante's proprietor, Cristiano Bassani, bedecks white-linen tablecloths with house-made pasta, chicken, and salmon dishes. The quaint eatery hosts private lunch and dinner parties for 10–60 patrons and all their imaginary friends, or fills households with heaping pans of pastas and entrees via catering services.
Crafted from fresh meats, fish, and vegetables, the dishes on La Zingara’s menu uphold Italian cooking at its most elemental, providing simple, hearty helpings of a few fine ingredients. In addition to crunching bread baked fresh daily, diners can dig into entrees such as risotto and lasagna.
Specializing in thick, Sicilian–style deep-dish pizza, Jet's has indulged palates since 1978, when the eponymous Jetts brothers opened the first joint in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Crusts buckle under the weight of mozzarella cheese and toppings such as grilled chicken and black olives, accompanied by sides such as hot wings, cinnamon sticks, or Jet's Bread topped with cheese, garlic, and butter. Stacks of meat and veggies pile onto piping-hot subs, and a variety of healthy salads helps to avoid the wrath of the Food Pyramid's ancient golems armed with giant wooden tongs.
Lou's Pizza Factory produces pies topped with bubbling cheese, hot from the oven. During lunch, stop in for a slice and a soda, or peruse the rest of the menu for classic Italian dishes such as meatball sandwiches and baked mostaccioli. Thin crust and pan pizzas are decorated with toppings that include sausage, onion, and green peppers that can be arranged to spell out "bite me."
Working late into the evening, the doughmasters at Donny's Pizzeria flip fresh ingredients into Chicago–style deep-dish, stuffed, pan, traditional thin-crust, and double-decker pizzas. The kitchen's passion for overstuffing also shows up in baked pasta shells, ravioli, and tortellini packed with imported cheeses. The most decadent corners of the menu harbor treats including deep-fried Oreos and the much-lauded Epic pizza, a 20"x50" pie that can serve 25–35 people or serve as a small cot.