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.
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn’t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, “Put pizza in it.”
Though the rest is history, it wasn’t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn’t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
Today, Gino’s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
The burger artisans at Smashmouth Burgers & Pizza fire a fresh array of American fare from their fully stocked menu and carefully craft a selection of recipes each week. Celebrate the right to bear burgers with a plethora of 2-ounce Smash burgers, each bolstering a bouquet of caramelized onions, pickles, and bistro sauce ($0.99), or with a Monster Smash cheeseburger meal, which balances lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, pickles, and bistro sauce on a precarious half-pound patty of seasoned ground beef ($8.99). In addition to harvesting fresh burgers from its private orchard each morning, Smashmouth’s staff also designs submarine sandwiches and signature pizzas. Patrons can sink incisors into the chorizo-and-jalapeño-laden South of the Border pizza ($14.99–$17.99), or the Alfredo pie, which orchestrates a meeting of the minds among spinach, mushroom, and alfredo ($14.99–$17.99), wherein the ingredients discuss creating an edible replica of Michelangelo's Last Judgment.
For more than 50 years, the staff at Arnie's Dog House has steamed classic Vienna beef hot dogs, Polishes, Italian beef, and other sandwiches and their focus on what's on top of the bun is just as important as what's inside of it. Toppings crown any meal choice, and include ladles full of chili cheese or the Chicago-style treatment for a hot dog, with sport peppers, dill pickle spears, and tomatoes on top. Arnie's toppings are so popular, they even come as a standard part of many menu items: cheese fries get more interesting with a sprinkling of bacon, and tamales come with gooey chili. Side items including fried pickles, cheese sticks, and funnel-cake fries help round out the menu. The team cooks up these favorites in addition to other items such as loose hamburgers, corn dogs, Italian sausages, and pizza puffs for meals to be eaten in house or delivered to your door still sizzling, cooking meals quicker than even the competitors of the Lunch Lady World Championship Games.
Doreen's Pizza adorns handmade pies with a cornucopia of fresh ingredients before serving them hot or freezing and foisting them into the hands of hungry consumers to cook at home. The kitchen staff slings circular comestibles in super thin, thin, double crust, and stuffed varieties, each one blanketed with a half-pound of mozzarella to add flavor and insulate peppers unaccustomed to cool climates. Frozen pizzas are never precooked, ensuring fresh flavors when cooked in home ovens or above papier-mâché volcanoes. Along with their inventive array of pizzas, Doreen's dine-in locations sate cravings with an expansive menu of gyros, hot dogs, burgers, golden-fried shrimp, and other eclectic eats.