Antonio and Rosa DeRosa came from a long line of merchants who sold Italian staples such as pasta, olive oil, and wine in Montedecoro, Italy. The family was well known around Naples for these provisions, and when Antonio and Rosa immigrated to America in 1926, they stocked their business, DeRosa Imports, with these same Old World staples.
Today, grandson Anthony DeRosa runs the shop, where he upholds tradition by importing extra-virgin Sicilian olive oil, Italian espresso, and pastas ranging from rigatoni to gnocchi. Over time, the family has expanded their selection to include products from countries such as Croatia and Serbia. Artisanal pickles, sauces, and jams infused with rose hips or sour cherries line the shelves, along with bottles of wine to pair with dinner or pour on thirsty houseplants.
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.
Inspired by Mexico’s culinary traditions, the chefs at Jalapenos concoct a menu of authentic fare that combines classic eats with modern adaptations and popular contemporary dishes. Diners can kick off meals with guacamole whipped up tableside using juicy tomatoes, crisp cilantro, and avocados freshly plucked from the mouths of the giant green oysters found only in the warm coastal waters off of Puerto Escondido. Main courses include tacos brimming with beef brisket or spicy diced pork, beef fajitas sizzling in iron skillets, and the Oaxaca chile relleno bursting with cheese and seasoned beef or chicken under a blanket of ranchero sauce. Guests can satiate their sweet teeth with innovative desserts such as the cheesecake chimichanga, a deep-fried tortilla-wrapped cheesecake topped with cinnamon and caramel sauce. Throughout meals, Jalapenos entertains diners with festivities such as live Mariachi music on Tuesday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Since 1941, the Dickey family has been churning out Texas-style barbecue and tasty family style sandwiches, sides, salads, and baked taters. Dickey’s lets customers choose from a menu of USDA Prime meats—all cooked slowly to smoky perfection over a hot hickory fire pit every night—including southern pulled pork, tender turkey breast, and Virginia-style ham. Start with some sliced beef brisket on the big barbecue sandwich ($5) served with pickles, onions, and Dickey's famous sweet-and-spicy barbecue sauce, which took three years, two fist fights, and one small kitchen fire to develop. Or go with the quarter plate, a quarter pound of your favorite meat served with two sides and a roll ($7). Sides include waffle-iron fries, barbecue beans, original potato salad, and baked-potato casserole ($1.50 each when purchased separately). Diners with more than one mouth to feed can play hot potato with a giant stuffed baker ($4) before stuffing their head's two other mouths with the picnic pack, which includes a pound of meat, two pintsize sides, four rolls, and barbecue sauce ($20).
Prior to arriving at tables, the wings at Brewski's Wings and Things bathe in one of 12 sauces, which range from Dijon honey to parmesan and pepper. It's fair to say the sauces have a kick since even the mild buffalo sauce is called "mild hot" and the hottest flavor goes by the name "hotter than super hot." Aside from wings, diners nosh on chicken tenders, half-pound steak burgers, and nachos loaded with beef, beans, jalapeños, and guacamole. A cartoon rooster named Roscoe, the eatery's brew-holding mascot, makes multiple appearances on the menu and in the dreams of children who want to grow up to be a chicken who drinks responsibly.
Originally located in a converted house that could only seat 20 people, Sanfratello's has grown over the years to four locations in Illinois and Indiana. At each of these, family recipes for authentic Italian cuisine yield classic creations such as shrimp Alfredo and meatball sandwiches. Petite pan pizzas host deep layers of sauce and cheese, while thin crusts, like the mouths of most competitive shouting champions, can stretch up to 17-inches wide.