Old Chicago specializes in deep-dish pizzas and fresh pastas, with an extensive beer list to wash it all down. The sicilian pepperoni roll, a potent mix of pepperoni, pepper jack, mozzarella, green onion, and ranch dressing baked into a doughy fuselage ($7.99), leads an arsenal of appetizers equipped to soothe early hunger pangs. Eight offerings of pasta include the santorini, a motley crew of Mediterranean vegetables—black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic—lovingly embraced by romano-and-parmesan-garnished cavatappi noodles ($10.99). The Chicago Seven calzone packs a savory payload of sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, green peppers, red onion, and melted cheese ($9.99). Old Chicago diners can follow in the footsteps of famous pizza artist Vincent van Stuffedcrust by creating their own pies ($20.79 for a large with three toppings)—choose from over 40 toppings, including grilled steak, ricotta, and jalapeños—or pick from a list of eight specialty pizzas, such as the protein-packed meat me ($21.99 for a large) or its arch-nemesis, the malibu veggie ($19.99 for a large). Those pining for a tasty meal cap can indulge in OC's famous big cookie ($4.99), a frisbee-sized chocolate-chip treat served in a hot pizza pan.
From within Ding Dong Dang’s variously sized private rooms, drifts the sounds of singers living out vocal dreams previously unleashed exclusively in the safety of the car or shower. As crooners belt out popular songs or fill in forgotten lyrics with their social security numbers, the bar concocts drinks to lubricate parched windpipes, drawing heavily upon the dulcet notes of a Korean liquor called soju. Against the soundtrack of newly proud singing and clinking glasses, dishes clatter against tables, laden with Asian options including breaded pork donkatsu, crisp popcorn chicken, and pingsu, a dessert that combines red beans, fruit, and ice.
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.”
Though the rest is history, it wasn’t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn’t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
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 jalapeños 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.
Laugh Out Loud Theater sprays the suburban fringes of Chicago with a thick foam of world-class improv comedy. An extensive, experienced cast brings a highly interactive, audience-assisted experience to the intimate Schaumburg stage, drawing on hive mind suggestions to kick off its inevitably LOL-worthy sketches. Families can provide the laugh track for the 7:30 p.m. show, which serves up healthy levels of consistent hilarity minus the inclusion of swearwords or adult situations such as applying for bank loans and replacing lost driver’s licenses. The 9:30 p.m. adult show is structured the same way, but performers will take audience suggestions that pave the way for hilarious onstage ribaldry guaranteed to knock the buckle-hat off your inner puritan. Both shows rely heavily on audience participation, and LOL’s indefatigable ad-libbers make it a point to invite willing audience members up on stage to help them achieve exponential levels of funny.
A towering, 35-pound pile of Angus beef, American cheese, and bacon awaits those who accept the Da Big Hurt Challenge at Shoeless Joes Ale House & Grille, the 22-year-old sports bar that has won over Chicago diners and Channel 2 News alike. Diners who tackle the challenge are rewarded with a T-shirt and are automatically entered to win the next presidential election. Guests with smaller appetites can enjoy more reasonably sized selections from the sports bar's menu of 14 gourmet burgers, steak, ribs, and pizza. Meals pair with pours from an impressive wine list or the roster of more than 20 craft beers on tap. The restaurant's 36 flat-screen televisions beam sports into the pub throughout the week while guests shoot pool, and singers belt out karaoke tunes on Saturdays.
When paired with blues chords, the smell of barbecue sauce transcends the normal sensory experience. Housemade dry rubs and sauces sink into smoked brisket, turkey, pulled pork, baby back ribs as the meat smokes slowly over a mix of hickory and applewood chips. Blues Bar masters this ethereal combination of soulful sounds and soul food, coupling weekends of live music with saucy ribs and sides of honey-chipotle corn bread and homemade fries. Inside the lofted dining room, tables look down onto the bar and its 24 HDTV screens that play live sporting events. Also you can find well over 75 plus craft bottled beers and 20 continually rotated draft craft beers. The blues joint’s decor pays tongue-in-cheek tribute to Chicago icons the Blues Brothers with a larger-than-life mural of the smart-suited duo and a full-sized vintage squad car in which John Belushi’s hat was once arrested for armed robbery.