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.
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).
Theo’s Steaks & Seafood showcases fresh fish flown in daily and premium meats aged for up to 20 days that are hand-cut on the premises. The menu’s newly plucked fruits of the sea include a New Zealand orange roughy topped with lemon butter and crabmeat ($16.95), and a medley of shrimp and scallops tossed with fettuccine and drizzled in the kitchen’s creamy homemade alfredo sauce ($18.95). An 18-ounce bone-in rib eye piggybacks tender texture on top of rich flavor and sports both a signature marbling and a rakishly tilted fedora ($26.95). Among the eatery’s Pavlovian-pooch-shaming proteins, a pair of thick, center-cut pork chops arrives bearing hickory sauce and oozing succulence ($16.95). Customers can dine inside among cushioned chairs and colorful wall murals, or on the restaurant's outdoor patio during warmer months. All entrees come with complimentary fresh-baked bread and cheese spread, and a rhyming dictionary to assist diners with the composition of paeans to the chef.
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.
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.
The kitchens at Bogart's Charhouse radiate tantalizing aromas of grilled meat as the walls grab guests' attention with black-and-white tributes to Bogie. The restaurant's meaty steaks range from 10 ounces to 4 pounds on dinner plates, and lunch guests can dig into a Bogie bacon cheeseburger, or a low-calorie plate of cold turkey. Sliced beef or lasagna catering plates can satisfy appetites at off-site events, such as office parties or a monthly tribute to the oppressive giants that rule one's neighborhood.