The Pitt Stop, home to a family dining room, bar, and electronic entertainment center with arcade and flat-screen TVs, dishes out a delicious menu of pub fare alongside frosty brews. Chicken wings flutter in 13 different succulent sauces, ranging from mild honey barbecue to five-alarm "hot mama" sauce distilled from the essence of fire ($6.99 for 10). Black Angus beef burgers such as the hefty bacon cheddar burger ($6.50) fill hands and tone biceps with their savory weight, and irish beef stew saturates bread bowls with rich gravy, potatoes, carrots, and onions ($6.95). Patrons can sip from a bottle of Budweiser ($2.75) or a sparkling cup of Grey Goose vodka and tonic ($7), while children can trigger bleeps and bloops in the on-site arcade. The Pitt Stop also organizes weekly events, such as racecar screenings on Sundays and family trivia night on Mondays.
Arturo Di Rosa's experience spans both sides of the Atlantic, as well as on the waters in between. After spending a decade working hospitality aboard a cruise ship, he came to America and entered the restaurant business.
At Capri Italian Restaurant, Arturo has assembled a menu of housemade pastas, traditional meats, and seafood dishes. Chefs prepare housemade pappardelle cooked in red wine and topped with sausage and tomato sauce, and saute jumbo shrimp in white wine flavored with lemon juice and garlic. Outdoors, a patio runs the length of the building, big enough to host a large party or an impromptu soccer game.
After years working as a sous chef and executive chef, Sean Kelley decided to found his own restaurant, where the rich colors and textures of tapas-style dishes are matched with vibrant decor. In the dining room, guests bite into lamb pops and sip hoppy craft beers from the beer list at booths underneath unearthly artwork. Wine bottles stand half-empty on the bright-red bar nearby as guests savor sharp whites and speak in arch tones about the declining quality of the Aquaman monthly series.
At Ed Debevic's, every house burger, hot dog, and diner entree shares a not-so-secret ingredient: sass. The servers welcome guests to the vintage venue with tongue-in-cheek remarks and paper deli hats, seating them next to vibrant examples of what Centerstage calls "smart-aleck decor": fake autographs, old-timey ads, and signs that carry proverbs such as "Eat Now…Pay Waiter." The mischievously retro tone is cultivated in homage to one of the owner's favorite restaurants, Lill's Homesick Diner. Back in the '50s and '60s, Lill acquainted Ed with the classic flavors of comfort food cooked from scratch, showcasing the spirited moxie that made her a standout in the short-order world.
Ed chose to emulate both her classic cooking and feistiness at his own diner. Many of his menu items are housemade, including the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, the desserts, and the blue-cheese sauce on top of the Ed's Blue Moon burger. Milk shakes and malts pair well with a variety of hot dogs and sandwiches, especially when counterbalancing the effects of Atomic Mix: a blend of diced jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes that garnishes certain plates. The staff stays in comically impudent character throughout these meals. And every now and then, the servers pause to put on countertop dance numbers that are almost as exciting as the time your grandpa turned the lazy Susan into a zoetrope.
The iconic comic-strip character and namesake of Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes peeps out from the first “o” in the deli’s logo, embracing not his wife, Blondie, but the signature Dagwood sandwich. With its four meats and pair of cheeses, the delicious (if slightly intimidating) sandwich represents the more than 20 signature subs and clubs that grace Dagwood’s menu. Meats ranging from premium roast beef to tender pork loin share slices of bread with cheeses, crisp pickles, and all the condiments one might expect of an old-fashioned deli. Those too young to appreciate the shop’s Sunday-paper references will at least enjoy kids’ meals such as the classic grilled-cheese sandwich. Aside from their in-store selections, the deli caters events with colorful trays of meats and sack lunches served by a curiously cartoonish wait staff.
Papa Murphy’s serves up a tasty menu of handmade take-and-bake pizzas created using dough, cheese, meat, and veggies that are freshly prepared every day. After customers choose their pie, Papa Murphy's personable pizza fashioners will build the pizza in-store and then package it for customers to bake at home in the oven, a pottery kiln, or over a pile of burning cookbooks. Customers can select one of Papa Murphy's signature pizzas or customize their pie to a more specific taste, choosing from sauces, crusts, and the more than 20 toppings available. Italian sausage, mushrooms, and black olives are corralled into the Cowboy ($15/16"), and the Chicago-style stuffed pizza is packed with onions, cheese, four kinds of meat, and one of the most efficient public-transit systems in America ($16/16").
Granite City Food and Brewery, a casual family restaurant founded by hospitality experts, has an on-site brewery and a menu stuffed with more steak, seafood, pasta, flatbread pizza, burger, and sandwich options than Abe Lincoln had dollar bills stuffed in his top hat. Gourmet pub-grub appetizers and many other generously portioned dishes are listed alongside the beers that bring out their flavors. The intoxicating taste of the inebriated vodka mussels ($12.99) is suggested alongside Northern Light, a light creamy beer, while the juicy, tender meatiness of a 14 oz. New York strip ($25.99) is advised along with Brother Benedict’s Bock, a brownish German style lager. Others among Granite City Food and Brewery's six specialty brews are the Irish-style Broad Axe Stout, known for its nose of roasted chocolate and coffee notes, and Duke Of Wellington, an English IPA with muscle-bound malt character and a deep-seated dislike of Napoleon.