Leonardo Toia “desperately discouraged” his kids from going into the family business, but their passion won him over, and now they help run numerous locations of the family-friendly neighborhood pizzeria. While adults peruse a menu of American and Italian favorites, such as half-pound burgers or housemade pastas smothered in tomato sauce or cheese and bacon, children 8 and younger pick anything from a free menu. Clients who wish to dine inside the comfort of their own home or submarine can have Leona’s food delivered within 60 minutes of ordering.
At Hello Sushi Bar and Thai Cuisine, diners nestle into deep red chairs and take in the latticed-wood décor before perusing a menu of dishes native to Japan and Thailand. Sashimi pieces mix together tuna, prawn, roe, and octopus more harmoniously than an underwater prom, and patrons slick up esophagi with BYO drinks. Chefs pull from a pantry of seafood, nuts, wasabi, garden veggies, and meats to construct colorful curries, noodle dishes, and sushi rolls. For sweet finales, Thai desserts appeal to palates, just as the exposed-brick walls appeal to the eye and waiters appeal to opera singers to save their singing for after dinner.
“Food can’t lie. If I tell you it’s good, but you taste it and it’s not good, it won’t be good,” says Nori’s owner Tom Kammaty. “If you make good food, it’s always successful.” This simple philosophy has led Tom and his staff—including his brother Tony and Head Chef Yo Yothin, who hails from Thailand—to curate a creative menu of sushi, maki, and dinner platters. Inside, an open-air sushi bar offers glimpses of the chefs hand-rolling each selection, lavishing diners with a more entertaining culinary show than an all-snowcone production of The Iceman Cometh as they savor a variety of hot tea blends or sip on their own BYOB imbibables.
Though Loving Hut has locations sprinkled across the globe, no two menus are the same. Whether in San Francisco or Toyko, the Asian-inspired vegan eatery’s talented chefs concoct dishes catered to local cuisines and ingredients. In Chicago, chefs work with a tasty textured vegetable protein—shortened to “TVP” on the menu. The protein is perfectly executed within Pan-Asian offerings, such as Korean barbecue and the Thai curry that “charmed” Chicago Magazine. Of course, chefs don’t use TVP in every menu item; salads boom with fresh produce, such as sweet potatoes, beets, and avocados, while veggie burgers showcase traditional tomato and pickle toppings. In line with the all-natural cuisine, Loving Hut’s “hut” surrounds patrons in earthy colors and textures. Furthermore, friendly reminders, such as “Share the World with All Beings,” are written across the walls.