Behind the small red brick storefront of Tonini's Italian Market, owners Dave and Taresa Goldman carry on the Italian cooking traditions that Dave followed years ago at the beloved––and now closed––D'Andreas Italian Market. These traditions include hand crafting four styles of italian sausage, sauces, pastas, and rustic breads each day. Though, Dave and Teresa are perhaps best known for their lean meatballs, which have garnered praise from local TV show Chicago's Best as well as the international grandmother syndicate. They fashion their many artisan specialties into a range of hot and cold Italian sandwiches, as well as deli salads ranging from piquant italian pasta to greek olive.
To compliment their homestyle cooking, they keep the store stocked with specialty groceries from Italy so customers can continue the tradition at home. Shelves brim with imported cheeses, canned tomatoes, and a gallery of olive oils, as well as colorfully painted ceramic plates and mugs.
Winner of the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2008–Cheese Selection, Marion Street Cheese Market carries a myriad of artisan cheeses from local and international farms, and offers a sumptuous menu for in-store bistro lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Dine in and dabble in one of the restaurant's cheese flights (each of which comes with bread, crackers, and dried fruit), such as the Francophile flight ($15), with firm Cantal cheese, Essex St. Comté, and the mild petit basque. Or practice your multiple-choice skills by designing your own flight ($12 or $15). Entrees include the free-range roasted chicken ($17) with bacon-shallot marmalade, or the mac 'n' cheese ($12–$14), with aged cheddar, SarVecchio parmesan, and Capriole chèvre. Complement tastings with craft brews such as Flossmoor's Recession Ale or Surly Brewing's Furious Ale, or sprinkle curds with a cheese-enhancing wine. Recently endowed with a license to spirit, the market is also beginning to serve specialty cocktails.
Since 1981, the fully stocked Riversides Foods has flung open its doors to throngs of customers and striving to provide them with exceptional service in their search of delectable fresh and frozen groceries. Union meat cutters at the in-house deli slice tender meats such as beef, pork, lamb, veal, and poultry sourced from locally owned vendors, whereas thirst is slaked with a cascade of boutique wines and spirits, whether it be a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand or an Argentine malbec. Flaky pastries, fresh breads, and cakes circulate their toasty aromas throughout the bakery, much to the delight of hungry cartoon characters prowling the store. Diners can stroll to the produce section to pluck from kaleidoscopic bushels of kosher, certified-organic, and locally grown fruits and veggies courtesy of Indianapolis Fruit Company, with whom Riverside Foods has a bountiful partnership.:m]]
With its lapping waves and watery vistas, Lake Michigan makes for a decent approximation of the much larger Atlantic Ocean, where Jeff Mazza feels most at home. Still, the owner of New England Seafood Company Fish Market could not shake a feeling of homesickness when he relocated to the Midwest. "Sitting on a deck eating some fried clams and some lobster rolls, that's every weekend pretty much. That's the stuff we miss and couldn't really find too much out here," he told ABC7’s Hungry Hound.
Rather than pining away and writing novel-length emails to the family dog, Mazza reflected on what he missed the most about New England and put together a plan. Soon enough, he and his brothers had opened a restaurant and market and were busy importing seafood freshly caught in the Atlantic’s waters. Today, their menu includes baked haddock, pan-seared crab cakes, and the aforementioned fried clams and lobster rolls of Jeff’s youth. The lobster rolls—with their cold lobster meat, buttery seasonings, and buns imported from Boston—seem to have won over the most local fans. Serious Eats recently described them as "the purest, simplest version" of the sandwich found in Boston or Chicago.
With four locations speckled across Chicagoland, The Goddess and Grocer pairs the menu of a gourmet deli with the packed shelves of a specialty grocery store. Muffins, scones, and croissants are baked in-house, wafting the scents of melting butter and sugar over a sandwich counter reminiscent of a giant artist’s palette. There, custom sandwiches take shape from 11 breads and wraps, 7 deli meats, 9 cheeses, 12 vegetables, and an assortment of condiments that covers everything from cranberry-tinged mayonnaise to horseradish sauce. A few fixed staples are on hand to simplify decisions, however, including an egg-salad sandwich that Chicago magazine placed on its list of the 50 Best Sandwiches in Chicago, praising it as "a testament to the sheer power of simplicity."
The Goddess and Grocer also assembles bag lunches as well as picnic hampers for patrons looking to enjoy a bite by the lake or to bait a Yogi Bear. To round out these meals, the staff can include high-end, specialty items from the grocery section, including handmade chocolates, artisanal cheeses, mustards and dressings, and wine and beer. Alternatively, they can cater gourmet breakfast, lunch, or dinner for large gatherings and celebrations.