More than 2,500 miles separate Japan and Thailand, a fact that is made apparent by their cuisines’ contrasting values—an adherence to clean, simple flavors on the one hand, and complex mélanges of fragrant herbs and spices on the other. Embracing both sides of this spectrum, Bangkok Tokyo’s menu features an extensive selection of fiery and savory curries as well as freshly sliced maki and nigiri.
At Spring Grove Family Restaurant & Pizzeria, the chefs specialize in comfort. All-day breakfast selections share menu space with dinners of fettuccine alfredo and half-pound burgers layered with bacon and cheese. From the pizza ovens emerge pies in both thin-crust and deep-dish variations, with ingredients added to emulate classic dishes such as tacos, reuben sandwiches, and the traditional delicacy known as "pizza." For sweeter cravings, the chefs bake tart cherry pies and top slices of molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and a chocolate drizzle.
When you get your first plate of Taqueria Los Comales’ signature Mexico-City-style tacos, you might be surprised by their size. Each double-wrapped taco is small enough to fit into your hand, a fact owner Camerino Gonzalez specifically had in mind when first making them in Chicago’s Little Village in 1973. Rather than have clients try just one of his signature meats, he wanted to allow guests to sample a wide variety of different options. Cooks stuff the soft tortillas with al pastor served in a secret marinade as well as more adventurous taqueria staples such as tongue or beef tripe. The restaurants’ homemade salsa and their own signature mix of pickled carrots, cauliflower, and jalapeños enhance these flavors, making meals as satisfying as the discovery that you’re tax exempt because of your cool haircut. Alongside the traditional tacos, chefs grill up meats for tortas, burritos, breakfast, and dinner platters, all of which can be paired with the shop’s glasses of creamy horchata or a range of Mexican and domestic beers.
Nicolino's chefs assemble fresh ingredients into hearty pizzas, pastas, and Italian entrees using decades-old family recipes while patrons wager on equestrians flashing across more than 60 plasma-screen TVs. The dining room beckons nongamblers and self-wagering competitive eaters alike with dishes topped in tangy tomato-cream sauces and imported prosciutto served amid chandelier lighting. Charbroiled steaks tempt landlubbing appetites, and rock shrimp, bay scallops, and fresh scrod lure taste buds out to sea. In the lounge, a candlelit bar hosts conversations and nine self-service terminals and a live mutuel teller field bets on horses at nearby Arlington Park as well as venues across the nation. Patrons flick 17 personal plasma TVs between races and other sporting events or search for insider commentary by Mister Ed on free WiFi.
Rustic booths and black-linen tables greet customers as they walk into Touch of Italy, setting the stage for the fresh meal to come. Zesty meat and marinara sauces, pan-seared veal, and seafood pastas arrive at tables after chefs assemble them to order from fresh ingredients instead of prepackaged herbs or wax garlic cloves. Diners can calm hunger pangs with combination pasta platters, dishes of chicken marsala, or steamy baked eggplant lasagna during lunch meetings and relaxing dinner dates.
At Marzano's Wood Fired Italian, pizza is such a serious business that the chefs won't even entrust the cheese to an outsider. Instead, fresh mozzarella is made in house for the restaurant's authentic neopolitan pizzas. When a pizza maker certified by Italy's Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani slides pies into the wood-fired oven, the creamy cheese bubbles atop sauce made from imported San Marzano tomatoes. On many of these pizzas, the mozzarella mingles with other traditional toppings, such as salami, arugula, or prosciutto di parma.
But the chefs are also aware that American pizza has become a class unto itself. Separate from the classically Italian pies are pizzas topped with barbecue chicken and onions, ham and pineapple, and italian beef and giardiniera. Make-your-own pizzas are also available, as are entrees like butternut-squash ravioli, seared scallops over mushroom risotto, and veal marsala. Echoing the kitchen's 1000-degree pizza oven is the dining room's large stone fireplace, which, like the server who inquires whether you ate your vegetables, gives Marzano's a homey atmosphere.