When Mario Aliano set out to start his own restaurant, he kept three simple principles in mind: pizza, pasta, and friends. Today, that triumvirate remains on the crest of Aliano?s Ristorante, emblazoned across an Italian flag that symbolizes their dedication to old-country recipes and hospitality.
Though the piles of pasta, piping-hot pies, and pressed sandwiches evoke the flavors of the distant Italian countryside, all of the dishes are homemade with fresh ingredients. They also look closer to home for inspiration, drawing on Italian-American inspirations to concoct Chicago-style pizzas famous for thick crusts that stay anchored to the ground on windy days. Occasionally, guests can enjoy occasional live entertainment from musicians and comedians?if they can pry their attention away from the veal cutlets or pastas piled on their plates.
John & Tony's Restaurant exudes all that is an upscale steakhouse: aged steaks, live music, and opulent décor. Master chef Carlos Hernandez dazzles tastebuds with a menu of seafood infused with the sweetness of pineapple or the zing of lemon, native Midwestern beef aged at least 21 days, and more than 11 styles of saucy pasta. Meanwhile, live music performances keep eardrums humming with the sounds of jazz, blues, classic rock, and open mic nights.
At Eddie’s Pizza and Pub, friends and neighbors share laughs and frosty draft beers over cheesy slices of pie under a canopy of local high school teams' pennants. The pub’s décor exudes a familiar neighborhood charm with its red-checkered tablecloths and walls peppered with posters of pro football teams and sponsored Little League teams, and regular trivia nights that inspire friendly competition between tables. But nothing brings people together quite like the food: thin vs. deep dish debates are put to bed since Eddie’s happily served both, along with a soft dough crust that suits those in the middle, a gluten free crust for sensitive tummies, and an ultra thin crust perfect for those with coin slots for mouths. Piling toppings upon those pies may prove more contentious, though luckily, Eddie’s menu features no less than 15 specialty pizzas with tried and true topping combinations. The bacon cheeseburger pizza pays homage to America’s favorite vegetable by piling ground beef, bacon, and a three-cheese blend atop the saucy circle, while the pineapple express pairs pineapple and jalapenos with sausage, pepperoni, onions to create slices that are both spicy and sweet. There’s also a smattering of sandwiches piled high with homemade Italian beef, sausage, or salami and cheese, as well as a small selection of salads for those with iron-clad will power.
Before buying his own restaurant, Mario DeMarco spent 10 years in the imported Italian-food business, and his experience with high-quality ingredients is evident throughout the menu at Mario’s Pizza, Pasta & More. Fresh pasta is used in every pasta dish, breadsticks are made from scratch, and imported prosciutto fills paninis along with high-quality, extra-virgin olive oil. Pizzas come in varying styles, from thin crust to deep dish, and can be customized with flavorful toppings such as italian sausage, fresh garlic, and artichokes. And as the sister restaurant of Salt Creek BBQ, Mario’s serves Salt Creek's rib slabs and hand-pulled pork sandwiches.
At Papa Saverio’s Pizzeria’s newly opened South Elgin location, cooks plate pizzas in a variety of styles, from traditional Chicago deep dish to hand-rolled double-dough crusts. Toppings such as barbecue chicken, italian sausage, and fresh garlic bedeck create-your-own pies, and chefs construct specialties such as the pizza Bianca, slathered in Alfredo sauce. They also layer pans of baked lasagna and mostaccioli with sauce and cheese in gargantuan portions designed to feed four family members or that second cousin who’s actually a grizzly bear. House specialty racks of ribs brushed with barbecue sauce, shrimp, and fried chicken round out in-restaurant or catered dinners, which can also include italian beef, meatballs, and sauce-covered wings.
Chicago Street Pizza's dough artists pile crusts with enormous helpings of fresh, tasty meats, melted cheeses, and a garden's worth of vegetables. Ten distinctive specialty pies, such as the Chicago Monster pizza, load up with canadian bacon, ground beef, fresh basil, and barbecue sauce, creating disks that work equally well as hearty meals or frisbees. As chefs prepare Italian eats, they ensure the juiciness of the beef sandwiches, the crispness of calzones, and the tang in the sauce-slathered pastas.