House-made cuisine isn't supposed to be flashy, and Mario's Mondo Cafe doesn't try to impress diners with anything beyond an unwavering dedication to Old World flavors. Inspired by generations of family recipes, Chef Mario cobbles together a menu of familiar Italian staples while incorporating local and sustainably sourced ingredients whenever possible. The Chicago Tribune praised the restaurant for its commitments to tradition and unpretentious comfort food, calling the eatery, "a casual, hidden treasure."
Even the decor aims to create a cozy ambiance. Butcher paper covers the tabletops and a single shelf lines the pale orange walls, displaying a variety of homestyle mementos, such as framed pictures and bronzed kickball trophies.
The scents of homemade pan pizzas, pastas, grilled focaccia sandwiches, fresh salads, and desserts fill the air at Father & Son Italian Kitchen. Working with recipes perfected over years of experimentation at Father & Son Italian Kitchen and Marcello's locations, chefs craft every item on the Italian-focused menu item in-house. The selections, which were developed with one of the founders of Potbelly Sandwich Shop to be prepared as quickly as possible, range from pastas to four-corner flatbread pizzas. Abbe's gluten-free menu is also available.
For more than four decades, the Salerno family has been catering to peckish Chicagoans' cravings for fresh, homemade Italian cuisine. Michael Salerno's Pizzeria in Glenview continues the family tradition, specializing in Southern Italian comfort fare, as well as customizable thin- and thick-crust pizzas. The menu showcases a lip-smacking litany of authentic dishes and saucy specialties, including the seafaring linguine with mussels ($13.95) and the sautéed veal scallopini, replete with garlic, mushrooms, and onions ($16.95). Ricotta-and-mozzarella-stuffed shells with marinara or meat sauce ($10.95) provide a cheesy counterpoint to baccala, baked fillets of codfish with black olives, capers, onions, and sliced potatoes ($13.95). Meat-free diners can feast on vegetarian paninis ($7.50), and meat-loving diners can stuff maws with meatball sandwiches ($6.50). Salerno's offers dough-disk aficionados a completely personalized pizza experience, allowing diners to choose between thin and thick crust, as well as a hodgepodge of fresh toppings. Create an aromatic and amorous atmosphere with a large cheese pizza ($16.50) piled with fresh garlic, hot giardiniera, anchovies, and onions ($0.75 per topping), and conclude your meal with a sweet bite of a homemade cannoli ($2.50 each) or gelato ($3.95 for a small) before carving your initials into your significant other’s smartphone.
Pizza purveyors will devour Edwardo's all-natural pies, made with 100% pure aged cheese, crisp crust, and a sweet n' secret tomato sauce. Those perusing the menu will swiftly find Edwardo's signature stuffed cheese and spinach pizza, a two-inch-tall tasty treat packed with enough hand-selected spinach to finally let Popeye defeat Emperor Palpatine ($17.25 for 9"). Edwardo's thin-crust pizzas are just as delectable, with the Hawaiian Luau pie hosting generous chunks of pineapple, savory Canadian bacon, monterey jack cheese, and sweet n' sour sauce ($12.25 for 10"). Gobble up the Chicken Pesto Passion calzone, brimming with tender grilled meat, mozzarella cheese, and homemade pesto ($7.29), or pick up two chunky meatballs, smothered in marinara sauce and roasted red peppers ($4.79), for a kicking kickoff or a supportive side dish to your meal.
At CiCi’s Pizza, patrons wander along a buffet brimming with fresh-baked pizzas, hearty pasta, crisp salads, and warm desserts. Dough spinners whip up pizza crusts from scratch every day, slathering them with vine-ripened tomato sauce or zesty white sauce before sprinkling on a coat of whole-milk mozzarella—the perfect trap for unsuspecting toppings such as ham, pineapple, Italian sausage, spinach alfredo, and macaroni and cheese. All of CiCi's offerings are free of trans fat and sad flour, including sweets such as brownies, apple pizza, and cinnamon rolls. Although pricing varies by location, many franchises offer the buffet for less than $6 per person, while inviting guests ages 2 or younger nosh for free. The pizzeria spices up its edible good works by launching community-oriented programs that range from fundraiser nights to lunch-and-learn field trips for students.
Pinstripes’ 50,000-square-foot space yields sanctuary to all sorts of merrymaking, sheltering 18 bowling lanes, indoor and outdoor bocce courts, and a kitchen firing hearty Italian cuisine. Demonstrate disdain for careful configurations of pins with bowling ($5–$7/person/game), or celebrate retirement by playing bocce ($8–$10/person/game) with papier-mâché balls made out of unneeded timesheets. Youngsters 12 and younger can develop their bowling arm and Fred Flintstone dances for $3. On Friday and Saturday nights, live blues and jazz bands perfume the air with soulful tunes.
Since serving the inaugural slice from its original Chicago location in 1970, Nancy's Pizza has carefully crafted an expansive menu of thick- and thin-crusted disks and Italian dishes laden with sauces and cheeses. Customize a signature stuffed- pie ($12–$18.50) by choosing from more than 20 filling options ($2/ingredient), or sample one of the pizza shop's tried-and-true deep-dish combinations such as the chicken and bacon with barbeque sauce ($15.50–$23.25). Thin-crust pizza ($11.75–$14.75, plus $1.75/topping) comes in enticing varieties such as Uncle Carlo’s Favorite, which is coated with chicken breast, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers ($15–$19.50), or the four manggio—a quartet of mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and romano ($15–$19.50)—brought together in melty harmony by the unifying powers of Nancy's pizza oven.