In their native Sparta, Kallianis siblings Dino, George, and Renee grew up milking cows, pressing oil from olives, and finding that night?s greens in the soil, inspiring a life-long passion for organic cooking. It wasn?t until the family immigrated to Illinois that they discovered another love: Creolo cooking. According to a piece in The Chicago Tribune, the Kallianis clan befriended a pair of Louisiana natives who helped the siblings learn English and introduced them to their first taste of southern-style comfort foods such as barbecue, jambalaya, and crawfish po?boys, inspiring Dino Kallianis to promise to one day open a restaurant in their honor. That restaurant became Captain Porky?s, an establishment that combines the low country flavors the Kallianis kids grew to appreciate with the farm-to-table philosophy of their youth. Locally-grown produce joins wild fish and olive oil imported from the family?s fields in Sparta, yielding platters of walleye pike and king crab or po? boys filled with catfish. For their barbecue dishes, they slow-smoke ribs, chicken, beef brisket, and pulled pork over a pit of dry-rotted red oak wood before slathering each cut in homemade barbecue sauce and pairing them with homemade dinner rolls or cornbread. There?s also homemade baklava, made by their mother Nota, as well as an ever-changing line-up of specials that at any given time could include a beef stroganoff made with wild foraged mushrooms or whitefish Rockefeller, a dish named for it?s popularity amongst New York?s most elite ice skaters.
Diamond Fresh Seafood Market & Cafe is a gathering place for fresh-caught seafood from the far reaches of the world's oceans. As daily hauls of imported and domestically snagged premium seafood arrive, the knowledgeable staff doles out creative café-style meals that include shrimp alfredo and hearty salmon burgers. Customers who prefer to cart home their catches pick up home cooking tips at cooking demonstrations by pro seafood chef Carol Mackey, who reveals the culinary secrets behind potato-encrusted sea bass and other recipes. At the monthly demos, attendees can also bring their own spirits to sip during the presentation and the resident singing trout's lounge act that follows.
Inside Gianni’s Cafe, guests can don chef caps and create their own dish. They start the culinary adventure with a selection of nine pastas, and build their creation with the addition of one of 14 sauces such as spicy arrabiata with crushed red peppers. Finally, they top off their creations with their choice from a slew of ingredients, including peas, crabmeat, and ricotta cheese. Diners who’d rather let the house chefs take the wheel, dinner-wise, can dine on delicious recipes including chicken marsala, baked shrimp, and eggplant parmigiana. No matte which path they choose, diners enjoy their meals on the restaurant’s linen-topped tables while tucked away in horseshoe-shaped booths. The faux-marble walls and ceiling along with statues of muscled men evoke an Italian air that befits the dishes’ Italian roots.
The menu, decor, and homey atmosphere at Muldoon’s all share one thing in common: each is designed to evoke a traditional Irish pub. The tavern, along with its sister watering holes Kerry Piper and Tommy Nevin’s, all salute the Emerald Isle with hearty dishes such as corned beef and shepherd's pie. As Guinness and Smithwick’s flow from the row of spigots behind the bar, friends can cheer on local sports teams on TV or wrack their brains to remember the name of Azerbaijan's currency and most popular potato-chip flavor at weekly trivia nights.
Throughout his life, Bob Chinn has refused to sit still. He began his restaurant career on the streets of Chicago at age 14, delivering orders of Chinese food on foot. From those streets, he built a business, eventually opening family restaurants in Evanston and Wilmette. The challenge wasn't enough though, and Bob began planning a concept restaurant: a first-rate seafood restaurant located in the landlocked confines of Wheeling, Illinois. The Zagat-rated eatery skyrocketed to prominence, acclaim, and success, earning the number one spot on Forbes's list of the top-grossing restaurants in the United States and completing phase one of its plan to make crabmeat our new currency. The menu reads more like a world map than a list of dishes. Alaskan king crab legs, Maine lobster, and Hawaiian ahi tuna represent the disparate domestic choices, appearing alongside exotic possibilities such as Nigerian prawns and stuffed Asian basa. To retain the characteristic flavors of this seafood, the restaurant flies in entire shipments on a daily basis, proudly filling a display board with that day's list of "jet fresh" choices from around the globe. The Reader praised this uncompromising devotion to quality ingredients, calling the fish "exquisitely fresh." To round out the selection, the chefs also stir-fry chicken and grill steaks that have been wet-aged for 3–4 weeks. Faced with a level of demand not seen since the Smithsonian auctioned off Abe Lincoln's rookie card, Bob Chinn's Crab House expanded its dining areas to accommodate more than 700 patrons at a time. The densely packed tables and booths sprawl throughout multiple rooms, which means visitors can experience the hustle and bustle of the main dining room or take in the back porch's tree-lined views.
Menus at Allgauer's may vary slightly by location, but each Hilton-anchored outpost of American dining serves high-end steaks and seafood. Mid-day appetites can be quelled with lunch offerings such as a starter of baked artichoke bruschetta ($8) and a hearty grilled rib-eye steak sandwich ($13). To dine during dinner, arrive in sundown-style and begin with an appetizing opener such as the mushroom pot pie with sherry wine and walnut blue cheese ($7). Sample the meatiest of meals, the grilled beef tenderloin medallions ($22–$33), or take a bathypelagic trip to fullness with sautéed shrimp and sea scallops ($17–$27). Entrees are served with a choice of the soup du jour or a house salad.