When asked to name a favorite sandwich, Cibo Racconto's managing partner, Mike Sheahan, immediately thinks of the porchetta—a ciabatta roll containing thin slices of pork tenderloin slow roasted in a garlic-white-wine sauce. Perhaps it’s the oven-roasted tomatoes or the provolone cheese, which are both imported from Naples, Italy, like most of the ingredients that make up Cibo Racconto’s menu. Pasta dishes teem with fresh noodles and san marzano tomatoes, including the lumache arrosto, in which a tomato cream sauce douses sliced sausage and roasted peppers.
Two of the restaurant’s partners crafted the panizza themselves while brainstorming new ways to use their existing ingredients. They hand-stretched pizza dough, lining it with imported ricotta before rolling the sides over and baking it to a crisp golden brown. Panizzas and pastas alike are served on granite-topped tables surrounded by sand-colored walls under a gilded tin ceiling, which often leans down to steal bites of unattended paninis.
Created in 1981 on the back of a few family recipes, Buona’s serves up appetite-satiating italian-beef-based sandwiches and comfort-fare classics. The menu is packed with palate-pleasing favorites such as hot dogs, sandwiches, grilled paninis, and thin-crust pizzas. Try an original Buona beef sandwich ($4.95 for a 7" size) made from a family recipe and served on freshly baked italian bread with natural gravy and beef that arrives tender, lean, and sheepish following an in-house roasting. Larger feasts such as the barbecue baby-back ribs ($9.95 for a half slab) or the grilled salmon cibatta ($7.25) quell the quagmires of even the most sovereign starvations. To keep meals as light as a globetrotting eccentric's hot-air balloon, try one of eight crisp, hand-tossed salads, such as the pesto balsamico, tossed with whole-wheat pasta, pesto, and toasted pine nuts, and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette ($7.25).
Bangkok Belly’s menu draws on sources from Thailand to Japan with sushi, noodles, and curries. More than a dozen sushi rolls represent Japan, running the gamut from traditional California rolls to the deep fried spicy tuna topped with asparagus and fried onions, and Japanese hallmarks such as egg rolls and tempura start dinners off as sacrificial offerings of thanks to the chef. Curries from Thailand simmer with spices over rice, while noodle dishes such as pad thai or lard na collate different spices and ingredients into a sauce-covered stir fry. Pra tu nam rice dishes are also served steaming from the kitchen. Bangkok Belly’s three locations span across the Chicagoland suburbs, with delivery, dine-in, or take out options.
Al Ferreri, his sister Frances, and his brother-in-law Chris Pacelli Sr., developed their signature italian-beef sandwich out of necessity in 1938. The economic depression made meat harder to come by, so the trio of sandwich makers made their supplies last by cutting thinner slices of roast beef.
Their business started with them feeding guests at family weddings, delivering meals to local hospitals, and catering the country's first food fight, but they soon founded a more permanent curbside food stand in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood. Despite their relatively humble beginnings, Al's Beef & Nancy's Pizza rapidly expanded and now boasts franchises throughout the Chicago area and across the country. The family business has garnered plentiful acclaim throughout the years, having been named Adam Richman's best sandwich in the Midwest on the Travel Channel show Best Sandwich in America in June 2012, appearing on Richman's Man v. Food and earning a place on Esquire's list of The Best Sandwiches in America in 2008.
The cooks begin every morning by roasting cuts of beef for the day, kneading fresh pizza dough, and cutting french fries with an industrial-strength laser pointer. The hearty italian-beef sandwiches can emerge from the kitchen with simple, unadorned meat or with blankets of melted cheese and spicy housemade giardiniera. The pizzas range from crispy thin-crust disks to deep-dish pies with 2.5-inch-thick crusts, supporting any combination of the 24 available toppings, which include oven-roasted garlic, baby spinach, and bacon.
Swim in a tangy, saucy consortium of fall-off-the-bone ribs ($13.79 half slab, $19.99 full slab) served with fries, slaw, and a roll, or speak softly and carry six mozzarella sticks, 15 mini corn dogs, and beer nuggets by ordering the appetizer platter ($9.99). The pizza––with a signature recipe that dates back to 1967 (or 1709 in dog years)––is served with thin crust, in the pan, or stuffed. Perry's also has a vast array of pastas, sandwiches, salads, holiday wishes, wraps, and more. Along with daily-deal specials, patrons can bask in the never-ending ambience of the pizza and salad bar ($6.99) or the pizza and salad plus Italian favorites ($8.99), which are available three to five days a week. For bulk orders, check out the catering menu options for specific prices. This Groupon is valid for the pizza, salad, and Italian buffets.