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.
Many families gather for holidays, weddings, and other special events. The Kambouris and Zaronias clans also convene to celebrate Greek and American cuisine at Maxim's Restaurant, their eatery, cocktail lounge, and catering service. Their lunch and dinner menu brims with hearty comfort food such as homemade soup, roast turkey with dressing, shish kebobs, and more than a dozen types of pasta dishes. Tivoli pizzas, one of the kitchen's specialties, can be ordered Greek-style with gyro meat and feta cheese or American-style with hamburger or barbecued pork. From 6 a.m. to midnight, the cooks also prepare homestyle breakfasts, including omelets, biscuits and gravy, and crepes with fruit or chocolate chips. In the lounge and sports bar, mixologists pour domestic drafts and craft colorful cocktails such as bloody marys and Maxim's fruit punch. The space also hosts toga parties teeming with ouzo shots, bottled beers, and music from a live DJ.
Antonio and Rosa DeRosa came from a long line of merchants who sold Italian staples such as pasta, olive oil, and wine in Montedecoro, Italy. The family was well known around Naples for these provisions, and when Antonio and Rosa immigrated to America in 1926, they stocked their business, DeRosa Imports, with these same Old World staples.
Today, grandson Anthony DeRosa runs the shop, where he upholds tradition by importing extra-virgin Sicilian olive oil, Italian espresso, and pastas ranging from rigatoni to gnocchi. Over time, the family has expanded their selection to include products from countries such as Croatia and Serbia. Artisanal pickles, sauces, and jams infused with rose hips or sour cherries line the shelves, along with bottles of wine to pair with dinner or pour on thirsty houseplants.
Doreen's Pizza adorns handmade pies with a cornucopia of fresh ingredients before serving them hot or freezing and foisting them into the hands of hungry consumers to cook at home. The kitchen staff slings circular comestibles in super thin, thin, double crust, and stuffed varieties, each one blanketed with a half-pound of mozzarella to add flavor and insulate peppers unaccustomed to cool climates. Frozen pizzas are never precooked, ensuring fresh flavors when cooked in home ovens or above papier-mâché volcanoes. Along with their inventive array of pizzas, Doreen's dine-in locations sate cravings with an expansive menu of gyros, hot dogs, burgers, golden-fried shrimp, and other eclectic eats.
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.
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn?t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, ?Put pizza in it.?
Today, Gino?s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae?s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings?from sausage and pepperoni to jalape?os and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don?t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.