A quaint Italian restaurant with old-country roots and classic flair, Pazzesco heaps piles of pasta and charm onto guests’ plates while leaving ample room for a succulent hand-cut steak. Founder Chris Patterson’s fusion of fresh Italian and chophouse fare incorporates menu items that have been passed down through generations or decoded from complex metrical schemes in Virgil’s lost epics. The antipasti freddi ($13) starts meals off heartily with an assortment of Italian meats and cheeses served with peppers and olives, and diavolo eggs ($3) make spicy souvenirs from Dante’s trip to the Inferno. Spaghetti marinara ($8.50) and lasagna layered with sausage and cheese ($12) co-star in an extravagant production of pasta dishes that includes a supporting cast of homemade meatballs or sausage links ($3 each). Hand-cut chophouse steaks such as the thick 12-ounce Iowa Chop ($15) or the juicy 14-ounce rib eye ($18) are chargrilled or broiled in butter and garlic and topped with a rich brown-butter sauce.
Owned by an intrepid pair of dough-spinning brothers, Jeff's Pizza Shop is a haven for delicious, quickly prepared Italian-American cuisine. Patrons can design trillions of custom pizzas using the five pie sizes and an ample toppings list or choose a specialty creation such as a 12-inch Cordon chicken ($13.49), which mixes rich ham with chicken strips and dumps the meaty medley over a thin crust stippled with alfredo sauce and honey mustard. Diners diagnosed with meat-deficiency syndrome can wrap their lips around a 14-inch Farmer Frank and all its ham, ground beef, bacon, bison meat, and extra cheese ($15.99), and vegetarians can indulge in the self-explanatory spinach, havarti, and artichoke pie ($10.69/10") paired with Sprecher's root beer ($1.69). Jeff's menu delves deep into baked savories beyond pizza, heaving hot, hefty calzones ($4.99+), toasted subs ($5.79), and thick cuts of saucy lasagna ($5.99) directly into mouths before they can apologize for taking small bites out of all the breadsticks ($2.99/side).
Papa Murphy’s pizza eschews monarchical store baking and provides fresh, high-quality pies for customers to enjoy on their own terms. Every pizza on the menu is made to order and whipped together in moments by artisan dough-throwers, who slather on a groundwork of sauce and cheese and then construct leaning towers of harmonized toppings. Stuffed pizzas sandwich a slew of meat and veggies between two layers of dough in a tasty Windy City tribute ($12.99–$14.99) and gourmet pizzas such as the Papa’s Favorite feature traditional red sauce and smorgasbord of meat and veggie pie packers ($11.99–$13.99). A cornucopia of thin-crust pizzas can be loaded with one of four different sauces, including traditional marinara and herb tomato ($5.99–$11.99). With detailed instructions provided for baking, grilling, or laser blasting your personalized pizza at home, Papa Murphy’s lets you finally reclaim culinary sovereignty from the dictatorial delivery boy.
The crafty couple, Scott and Deb Coldiron, recreate the traditional Italian pizza with a menu of wood-fired pizza. In an imported, handcrafted oven, burning only seasoned hardwood, the pizza preparers cook up their tasty two-dimensional dishes at over 800 degrees. They do as the Neapolitans do by using locally produced ingredients when possible and baking fresh dough daily. The pizza pros proffer a selection of signature concoctions, such as the pie splattered with La Quercia dry coppa, Stickney Hills goat cheese, arugula, and crushed red pepper ($10), and the smoked provolone, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, rosemary, and basil cheesily chatting atop hand-worked dough ($8). Personalize the belly-filling experience by topping a palatable pie with one of the 23 topping options, such as the toasted pine nuts, goat cheese, and prosciutto sausage, or by toting along childhood photos (build-your-own pizzas start at $7, with additional toppings $1 each extra).
At Mama Lacona's Italian Restaurant, cooks have baked pastas and stacked meatball sandwiches for more than 50 years, feeding hungry families and ravenous wolverines who wander in from the interstate. From the Sunday brunch buffet to gluten-free dishes, the family-oriented eatery caters to all of its patrons' special needs or favorite eating times.