Island Sports Bar and Grill maintains the balance between good food and good fun, serving up hearty bar food to complement a full schedule of social events. The kitchen crew grills beef, turkey, and veggie burgers to order, and tops Vienna hot dogs with all the Chicago fixings. Meanwhile, customers strut their stuff during Monday-night line dancing and karaoke, learn stepping lessons on Tuesday, listen to a live band on Wednesday, cut loose at ladies night on Thursday, or slap their knees in jubilant joy or subtle spasm during the Friday-night comedy hour. The middle of the week brings a host of events.
Choice-meat maestros at both Stefanelli's new location in Lockport and longstanding shop in Blue Island stock shelves with italian sausages, imported wines and cheeses, and fresh carry-out-menu items and catering platters. The breaded eggplant sandwich ($4.99) slumbers under a blanket of red sauce and cheese, and the muffolatto sandwich ($6.99) dresses to the nines in a three-piece suit of hot capicola, ham, and mortadella, garnished with a corsage of genoa salami. Cap off meals with a traditional cannoli ($1.49) picked fresh from an Italian cannoli tree. Alternatively, the catering menu ratchets up proportions with platters of pasta, chicken entrees, and sandwiches such as the torta round sub ($29.99), sized to feed 10 people or an entire convention of toddlers. The full pan of baked mostaccioli ($39.99) arrives topped with cheese and a desire to feed at least 20 people, and the half-pan of chicken or sausage vesuvio ($29.99) feeds 10–15 people and comes sidekicked with italian potatoes and mushrooms drizzled in a white-wine sauce.
An American tourist in Mexico might stroll by a restaurant decorated with goat horns and not give the decor a second thought. However, the horns do often signify something special: birria, a hearty mexican stew from the state of Jalisco. And while Mr. Burritos and Los Lokos Burritos may not have goat horns strung across its walls, its chefs do make the spicy, soul-warming treat—but only on weekends.
The name Mr. Burritos should give away the eatery’s other specialty, which comes in nearly 20 varieties—including two vegetarian options and two sizes, baby or giant. Similar spiced meats, such as barbacoa, steak, and carnitas, also fill tacos and chimichangas. People who weirdly enjoy mornings can stop by in the a.m. for a hearty Mexican breakfast of eggs and chorizo. Aside from inviting guests to test their heat tolerances at three locations, Mr. Burritos and Los Lokos Burritos deliver their food directly to doorsteps and can also cater events such as birthday parties and presidential debates.
Hearty homestyle cooking is the hallmark of the menu, with full slabs of smoked ribs arriving at tables paired with fries, bread, and coleslaw. The kitchen staff also grills catfish and piles plates with piping-hot wings, coated in a spicy sauce that's both flavorful and useful for temporarily blinding assailants. On Sundays, a soul-food menu tempts diners with hearty meals of pot roast or baked chicken with sides of greens, mashed potatoes, or candied yams.
Savory pastas and imported items aside, Bella Mia relies on three main ingredients: quality, hospitality, and care. These building blocks have helped turn the ristorante into a neighborhood favorite, complete with daily specials and live entertainment so guests don't have to put on puppet shows at their tables. Inside the elegant, low-lit dining room, where framed artwork lines the walls, servers deliver prime steaks and chops, fresh seafood, and other Italian specialties. The pastas are especially popular, including a linguini calamari dish sauteed in olive oil and flavored with fresh garlic, black olives, and a white or red wine sauce.