Inside of a charming century-old brick building overlooking Crown Point’s bustling square, head chef Carl Lindskog stays busy crafting combinations of Italian and Japanese edibles culled form the mindparts of experienced edibles. His feasts of grilled seafood, focaccia, steak and pasta grace cloth-clad tables downstairs in Amoré Ristorante, where the vintage bar dating from Chicago's 1933 World's Fair enshrines a heel print from 1930s dancer Sally Rand. Upstairs, Lindskog’s delectable sushi rolls, tempura, and dumplings pair with 109 Lounge’s 34 specialty martinis. Live music frequently fills the air during the evening hours, complementing the chef’s creations with a laid-back attitude that permits smoking and encourages playing hooky from other, less interesting dinners.
Family owned for over 35 years! The tradition began when Angelo opened the doors in 1976, his sons Larry & Peter took over a few years later. From there they have expanded to 9 family owned locations and 9 franchises. All of the franchise owners continue the tradition of family owned and operated restaurants.
The burger artisans at Smashmouth Burgers & Pizza fire a fresh array of American fare from their fully stocked menu and carefully craft a selection of recipes each week. Celebrate the right to bear burgers with a plethora of 2-ounce Smash burgers, each bolstering a bouquet of caramelized onions, pickles, and bistro sauce ($0.99), or with a Monster Smash cheeseburger meal, which balances lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, pickles, and bistro sauce on a precarious half-pound patty of seasoned ground beef ($8.99). In addition to harvesting fresh burgers from its private orchard each morning, Smashmouth’s staff also designs submarine sandwiches and signature pizzas. Patrons can sink incisors into the chorizo-and-jalapeño-laden South of the Border pizza ($14.99–$17.99), or the Alfredo pie, which orchestrates a meeting of the minds among spinach, mushroom, and alfredo ($14.99–$17.99), wherein the ingredients discuss creating an edible replica of Michelangelo's Last Judgment.
Giuseppe "Joe" Scalzo had to turn down his first opportunity to manage a restaurant, a small trattoria in Calabria he'd been working in as he attended school. He had spent his entire professional career working in Tuscan eateries and wanted the job, but his educational path led him to Chicago's Loyola University in pursuit of a business degree. It didn't take him long to realize that the thing he missed most about home was working in a restaurant. With his newly acquired business acumen, he began his foray into opening Italian restaurants: first Piazza Bella, then Via Carducci, and finally his most recent labor of love, Ciao Bella Ristorante.
The kitchen is nestled behind a black-and-white photographic mural, which hints at the sunshine that sparkles along the Mediterranean coastline. Greenery flanks the piece, providing contrast along with the warm, saturated red walls painted with real marinara sauce. As guests revel under dim lighting amid the elegant atmosphere, plates of carefully crafted Italian cuisine arrive at tables alongside traditional thin-crust pizza. The restaurant recently expanded its bar and lounge areas and added a new banquet area for private parties that can seat up to 70. Joe's personal favorite pie is the quattro stagioni, for its savory blend of prosciutto, artichokes, and black olives.
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).
Originally located in a converted house that could only seat 20 people, Sanfratello's has grown over the years to four locations in Illinois and Indiana. At each of these, family recipes for authentic Italian cuisine yield classic creations such as shrimp Alfredo and meatball sandwiches. Petite pan pizzas host deep layers of sauce and cheese, while thin crusts, like the mouths of most competitive shouting champions, can stretch up to 17-inches wide.
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.