In 1967, Benny and Joy Leonardo decided it was time the world got a taste of the family’s Italian cooking, maybe with a side of prime-aged beef. They founded Mr. Benny’s Steak & Lobster House, an enduring fine dining establishment that dishes up fine meats and fresh seafood in hot, Italian-style entrees. They’ve changed locations and expanded over the years, but the fine eats the restaurant serves at its two locations maintain the same spirit as the original spot. In Matteson, chefs sling steaks in an almost entirely brick structure, the interior warmly lit by chandeliers and wall sconces. Outside the window, privacy bushes enclose a small garden of statuary. Meanwhile, the Mokena restaurant boasts hand-painted murals and a brick-laid patio for al fresco dining, as long as weather permits and the sun hasn’t retired to another galaxy.
A family-owned-and-operated establishment, the idea for Jenny's Steak House sprouted more than 60 years ago in a small pub on Chicago's South Side. These days, chefs still whip up menu items that the family concocted all those years ago, such as potato pancakes, braised lamb shanks, and oxtail soup. The culinary maestros at Jenny's Steak House also grill hand-cut steaks smeared with a special seasoning blend, pair wraps and sandwiches with homemade Idaho potato chips, and blacken, broil, or fry fresh seafood. Meanwhile, the pizza kitchen dispenses pies until 1 a.m., at which time all the uncooked dough and pepperoni turn into a magical pizza carriage. The lounge accommodates guests even later as they relax with martinis, local brews, or wine while enjoying evening entertainment such as live music and karaoke.
The chefs at Luby's Pub & Steakhouse coat sweet jumbo shrimp in house-made coconut batter, bake orange roughy in herb butter, and char-grill juicy burgers with onions for dinners, banquets, and custom catering. In the dining area, veal parmesan nestled on plates of angel-hair pasta shares tables with slow-roasted portions of prime rib au jus and farm-raised blackened catfish. Diners may also opt to sip cocktails on the outdoor patio during the summer months, when the sun is extra fiery.
For more than 30 years, Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage has served up a Chicago-centric menu of beef sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs. Silence empty-belly rumblings with one of Pop's delectable beef sandwiches ($4.19–$6.35), such as the italian beef, heaped with mounds of succulent, thin-sliced beef soaked in special spices and natural gravy. Windy-city visitors can delight in the classic Chicago hot dog and the savory polish sausage (each around $2.29–$2.99, depending on location), each nestled underneath mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and the looming shadow of oscillating skyscrapers. Other handheld fare includes the meatball and corned-beef sandwiches, which can be upgraded with a variety of extras, including red sauce, sweet peppers, hot mix (all free on sandwiches, extra as a side), feta cheese, and bacon. A fleet of made-from-scratch soups and salads is also available, and includes such options as the hearty cream-of-chicken rice soup and the large garden salad ($2.09–$3.99).
Venice Italian & Steakhouse’s traditional Italian dishes and upscale ambience conjure the glamour of old Chicago. The extensive dinner menu spotlights steaks, including an 18-ounce prime rib eye ($32) or a 20-ounce prime porterhouse ($38). A selection of seafood dishes create succulent symphonies with a garden’s worth of vegetables, such as the pappardelle shrimp packed with portobello, cremini, and porcini mushrooms ($17), and the grilled salmon fillet flanked by zucchini ribbons and herb-roasted potatoes in a lemon-butter sauce ($22). Ziti al vodka cradles grilled chicken, peas, and sun-dried tomatoes in a creamy nest of tubular noodles ($16). Other entree options feature chicken, lobster, veal, and barbecued pork.
N'awlins Crab House charms taste buds with southern snacks and seafood steeped in Cajun and creole culinary traditions. Diners can investigate three menus as they search for edible pearls in oysters on the half shell ($15.95/dozen). Crawfish creole sates veggie cravings with tomatoes, celery, and colorful peppers ($15.95), and marinated sirloin medallions ($15.99) reward carnivores by supplementing USDA Choice beef with a half-dozen prepared-to-order shrimp. Guests may customize the Captain's platter ($23.95) by pairing snow-crab legs and a broiled lobster tail with poached, sautéed, or charbroiled prawns. Growing po boy sandwiches devour catfish, blackened mahi-mahi, and other seafood staples ($8.95–$13.95), emerging from the kitchen with crunchy batter exoskeletons and the power to lure mermaids into timeshare seminars.