Rust-colored brick walls and picturesque Italian-village street scenes lend a distinct Old World atmosphere to the dining room of Robolli's Italian Bar & Grill. This eatery isn't actually nestled on a quaint Tuscan hillside, though a disoriented visitor wouldn't be blamed for thinking so after sipping a glass of imported chianti and biting into Robolli's traditional Italian cuisine.
Its chefs drizzle housemade sauces—such as herb-and-garlic-infused marinara and creamy parmsean alfredo—onto pastas and seasonal vegetables. They also crown housemade Chicago-style deep-dish or thin-crust pizza dough with more than 25 toppings, including some unusual offerings, such as house-smoked pork, shaved rib eye, and sunny-side-up eggs. Chefs make the pizza dough gluten-free or shaped like giant Frisbee upon request.
Offering flavors containing two grams of fat or fewer, Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt showers customers with a slew of healthy dessert options that scoop and customize for themselves. Rows of self-serve machines wait for inquisitive hands to release an eclectic mix of flavors—such as vanilla, brownie batter, eggnog, chocolate mint, and gingerbread—into waiting cups below. Customers become maestros at work as they conduct a symphony of sweet and candied toppings, dusting heaps of soft-serve with wisps of coconut, mochi, or cocoa pebbles. After finishing their masterpieces, customers can decamp to seating set between the shop's neon-lime walls to eat away, read over the detailed nutritional information of their favorite flavors, and build replicas of the Sydney Opera House out of discarded spoons.
Jasmin Bradley knew that her mother, Maria, had a longtime dream of owning her own restaurant. So, after serving in the US military for seven years, Jasmin opened Maria's Island Restaurant in her honor. In the restaurant's kitchen, Maria prepares dishes that she remembers from her childhood in the Dominican Republic: tender, meaty oxtail, rich dominican beef stew, and mofongo—a dish of garlicky mashed plantains and pork or shrimp—are a few specialties. After relishing the savory courses, diners can end meals on a sweet note with spoonfuls of flan or sips of morir soñando—a sweet beverage made with milk and orange juice.
The Acorn Restaurant came to fruition in the fall of 2008 inside Red Oak Manor, a family-owned-and-operated bed and breakfast. Prior to its transformation, however, the house in which The Acorn resides was a private dwelling, built in 1880, and known locally as both the home and office of the neighborhood physician. Today, the restaurant extends as one of Red Oak's many services, plating up breakfast biscuits at 6:30 a.m. sharp and dishing out deli-style sandwiches for lunch. It also hosts frequent special events, including weddings and bimonthly chef competitions and live music.