On the front of Luigi’s menu, patrons read an Italian adage: a day without pasta is like a day without sunshine. It’s fitting then, that they serve more than 20 different pasta dishes. Diners can select noodles entangled with hickory smoked bacon or baby clams, or entreat the kitchen to put together a favorite that’s not on the menu—if they have the ingredients, they’ll gladly make it. Elsewhere in the kitchen, a stone oven bakes pizzas built from fresh dough and tomatoes packaged within six hours of being plucked from the vine. Like the best-smelling apartments, creations can be decorated with custom toppings or signature blends such as mushrooms and thinly sliced steak.
Eschewing the cramped quarters that pubs so often try to pass off as coziness, The Ravine Pub & Grill pairs a low-key, neighborly vibe with a dining room that can accommodate banquets or wedding receptions of up to 500 people. The restaurant’s servers put that space to good use as they ferry large plates of American comfort fare back and forth from an expansive island bar, where hanging overhead lights cast their glow on homemade soups, 6-ounce burgers, and fisherman dangling baited forks over plates of steamed haddock. Draft brews and stacked sandwiches teeter as Packers fans slam tables after touchdowns, and hot slices of homemade pizza make for satisfying late-night snacks on Fridays, when the restaurant stays open until 11 p.m.
The seasoned chefs at Instant Replay Sports Grille dish up a mix of classic pub favorites and upscale seasonal noshes. After drinking in the full-bar menu, warm up before the game with the bruschetta ($6.99), seasoned flatbread decorated with tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and parsley, or ward off unwanted amorous advances with the onion-ring tornado ($6.99), fried sweet onions served with dipping sauces. Carnivorous customers can chomp the Day/Night Doubleheader burger—an Angus-beef patty disguised as breakfast in a suit of Hormel bacon, fried egg, pepper-jack cheese, and chipotle ranch ($8.49)—or the New York strip ($16.99), a USDA-prime, aged, certified Angus-beef slab served with two sides, such as beer-battered fries, grilled asparagus, and housemade potato chips.
Sometimes, the seats seem to vibrate at Pearly Gates Bar and Grill. Maybe it’s because of the bikes revving outside, or perhaps stomachs are the culprit, rattling chairs as they clamor for grilled-to-order steaks, beer-battered fish, and build-your-own pizzas. Either way, this neighborhood bar buzzes with activity seven days a week, hosting bands, Packer parties, and another Wisconsin tradition: the meat raffle. The taps funnel more than a century of history into each mug, recalling times when breweries dotted Lake Michigan’s shores and the scent of hops powered Model Ts. In addition to flaunting community pride, the bar salutes the nation’s troops with a collection of American flags and yearly fundraisers for Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 224 and Desert Veterans of Wisconsin.
Since putting the finishing touches on their first dish in 2001, Grapevine Café’s adroit chefs have worked tirelessly to forge upscale American fare throughout the day, from meticulously assembled hazelnut french toast at breakfast to a dinnertime feast of tender slow-roasted baby back ribs. In a bustling kitchen, the culinary team employs fresh, inventive ingredients—such as fresh mozzarella, Norwegian salmon, farm-fresh eggs, and certified Black Angus beef—to imbue casual noshes with a luxurious twist. Affable servers weave in and out of a dining room festooned with homey, country-style décor such as solid wooden tables, red awnings, and paintings that depict flowery scenes of plant-covered buildings and Ben Franklin giving his prom date a corsage from the front seat of his dad’s Dodge Durango. While openness and spaciousness defines the main dining area's aesthetic, a scattering of cozy nooks facilitates private post-prandial gazes into the eyes of a dining partner.
The roller-skating staff at Sonic Drive-In sidles up to cars bearing fresh American fare, ranging from coney dogs to hamburgers to onion rings. The Sonic burger simmers with a quarter-pound of pure beef nestled on a bun with your choice of toppings. Tasty add-ons include crispy, handmade onion rings, chili cheese tots, and mozzarella sticks, covered in italian breadcrumbs and easily used as a microphone substitute to sing along with the local weather report. Banana splits satisfy sweet teeth with a freshly peeled spear of fruit cooling under real ice cream and scrumptious toppings.