The rules to Nonna’s Challenge are deceptively simple: eat two slices in half an hour. Every last bit of pizza must be finished, and you can only get up from the table to refill your drink. So what’s the catch? Well, for starters, the slices are gargantuan––each constitutes a quarter of a pie and measures nearly an inch thick. None of this could dissuade pizza aficionado Tim Brown, who polished off two slices in less than four minutes. Thankfully, not all meals at Nonna’s Pizza have to be so intense. Though the pizzeria has been serving up enormous slices for more than four decades, its menu has a lot more to offer. Hearty pastas, 8-inch Italian sandwiches, and sauce-slathered wings are just some of the dishes that fill tables beside the dining room’s large picture windows. Nonna’s even brews a special house cola, which gets its distinctive spice from being fired in the same oven as the pizzas.
Beginning in Chicago more than four decades ago, Pepe's Mexican Restaurant now offers up a full menu of classic Mexican flavors throughout Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Tortilla-wrapped entrees such as the chorizo quesadilla ($7.50) or the stuffed-taco dinner ($2.65–$3.45) wrap their floury shells around a choice of meat, veggies, and spicy sauces to create dishes flavorful enough to make the mouths of Mount Rushmore water. Broiled steak serves as the centerpiece for fajitas ($13.75), which arrive to tables on a sizzling platter surrounded by sautéed spanish onions, tomatoes, and a colorful assortment of bell peppers. Velvety moles coat tender boneless chicken breast for the spicy chicken en mole ($10.50). Meals conclude with bites of creamy, caramelized flan ($3.50), which sate cravings for a decadent meal-ending treat without coating the check in chocolate.
Despite the name, Simply Slices parcels out pizza in nearly any form desirable—by the slice or by the pie, and for dining in, picking up inside, or driving through. Pie twirlers heap a selection of 13 ingredients on crust spread thin, fluffed to form a deep basin, or stuffed with toppings. Meanwhile, sister store Sno Biz pipes in sweet shaved ice to accompany special combos that get customers more food for their dollar or doubloon.
Smokin' Hot Smokehouse's roster of slow-cooked ribs, chicken, and pork pleases palates with its complexity of flavors and succulent array of dipping sauces. Chicken wings ($9.99/dozen) saunter to tables solo, wrapped in breading, or wearing a dapper fez, and accessorize with a choice of buffalo, jamaican jerk, or traditional barbecue sauces. Workout incisors with bulky plates of baby back or St. Louis–style ribs, both slathered in signature sauce and paired with corn bread, corn on the cob, and a choice of two Southern-inspired sides ($12.99 half rack; $19.99 full rack). Open-face pork sandwiches arrive mouthside drizzled in pepper vinegar sauce or classic barbecue ($12.99), and paper-thin slices of beef brisket ($8.99) woo mouths with love letters of tenderness and onion rings of savory devotion.
At Omega Restaurant Pancake House & Bakery, sizable omelets, skillets full of hash browns, and fresh eggs are mainstays on the menu no matter the hour—and the dining room is open until midnight every day. Sweet options range from oven-baked apple pancakes to crepes, including one stuffed with Montmorency cherries and an imported Danish wine. There's also the onsite bakery, which produces delectable pies, danishes, and pastries.
The new owners of Omega Restaurant Pancake House & Bakery have instructed their chefs to be just as detailed with their afternoon dishes. Each burger patty is ground in-house, and homemade soup specials rotate daily. Alongside a sprawling list of sandwiches and wraps, dinner plates such as veal parmesan, and Athenian-style skirt steak bring an international touch to the table.
Tossing pizzas and slinging Italian fare in Evergreen Park since 1980, the Barraco family has since extended its cheese-drenched reach across south and west Chicagoland with the help of a winsome menu. Deep-dish pizza ($12.30–$18.55) floods a dough basin with Olympic size pools of cheese and other mix-'em-ins. Diners embark on transatlantic journeys with each bite of the Around the World pizza ($10.95–$22.30), with a gustatory Baedeker of sausage, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. Because it takes 25–30 minutes for pizzas to bake and compose adequate love sonnets to ovens, parties can quell impatient bellies with a roster of appetizers, such as fried and stuffed artichoke hearts ($8) or breaded mushrooms ($7.25). Alternatively, diners can dip into noncylindrical fare, such as the chicken linguine pesto ($18.50) on the pasta menu, the grilled tilapia dinner ($16.75) on the specialties menu, or a savory selection of rhombuses on the complimentary geometry tests.