Designed to mimic the French palace of Versailles, Rialto Square Theatre's magnificent interior awes showgoers with its gilded opulence. In the regal inner lobby, a 20-foot, 250-light chandelier?dubbed The Duchess?illuminates a circular series of delicate reliefs that depict allegories of man triumphing through labor and scenes from Greek mythology. A scaled-down replica of Paris's Arc de Triomphe leads from the lobby to the rotunda, adding to the space's grandeur and commemorating miniature Napoleon's victory at the adorable Battle of miniature Austerlitz.
A lot has changed in the century since the Paramount Theatre was founded, but the theater's crowd-pleasing entertainment wouldn't have been out of place in Aurora's turn-of-the-century theater scene. When the Venice-inspired art-deco venue was first built, it joined an already-bustling local tradition of vaudeville, silent films, concerts, and circus acts. Photographs dating back to 1931 guided a 1976 restoration, in which artisans completely retraced and repainted eight original murals, re-gilded the fluted columns, and patched up the sheets of every ghost. Concerts, comedy, and community events fill the theater when it's not occupied by the dazzling production values of a professional musical-theater company, which launched what the Chicago Tribune called a "thrilling debut season" in 2011.
The Quad City Symphony Orchestra tickles ears with beautiful melodies and spectacular performances during its annual "Holiday Pops" concerts. Guest conductor Michael Butterman takes charge of an all-star cast that features six-time U.S. figure-skating champion Todd Eldredge as he shows off his moves and carves his version of a perfect tumbleweed into the ice. Actor and Quad Cities native John Getz lends his vocal talents to festive proceedings, and internationally acclaimed trumpeter Jon Faddis jazzes up orchestral pieces with fiery improvisation. The show takes place at the i wireless Center, with guests choosing from lower-bowl seats for straight-ahead sightlines or upper-bowl perches for enviable views of conductor stage dives.
Tendrils of scented smoke rise into the air at Aromas Hookah Bar, where more than 200 flavored shisha tobaccos invite exploration. Patrons can relax on one of three floors, each providing a different atmosphere. Downstairs is a dark, and cozy room, upstairs is a TV lounge with a selection of DVDs, and the main level displays the bar's wares, flavored shisha including blueberry, lemon, dragon's breath, and original sin.
For the past 30 years, Nardi has never stopped honing his skills as a cook, and he now feeds the masses at his restaurant, Nardi's on Chicago. Nardi's celebrates Joliet's local history as well as casual Italian and American food. In a dining room decked out with a series of vintage photographs that depict former Joliet businesses and bridges, classic pasta, steak entrees and craft cocktails top tables. Nardi uses only organic produce and free-range meats in these dishes. He crafts his signature offering, a simple platter of spaghetti and meatballs, from his grandmother's own recipe.
While audiences laugh it up at the rib-tickling comedians, Morty's slick performance space entertains their eyes. Eschewing the dowdy aesthetic of many comedy clubs, Morty's features sleek, modern tables and chairs and a wood-paneled bar. A full menu of tasty food, meanwhile, quells hunger while drinks and craft beers cool tongues and help keep people from spontaneously combusting.