At Trattoria Valle D’Itria, chef Giovanni calls upon a brick oven and an armory of fresh ingredients to bring to life the culinary traditions of the sun-soaked Itria Valley. Diners draw in deep breaths loaded with the aromas of sweet polenta, chicken stuffed with mushrooms, and gnocchi cloaked in vodka-cream sauce. Cooks roll sheets of dough, which they trim into myriad fresh pastas bound for steaming pots and the desk of alphabet-soup editors. Warm lighting romps across dark wooden accents in the restaurant's interior, and umbrellas shelter patrons as they dine and people watch in sidewalk seating.
At first glance, Teddy O'Brian's comes off as a pretty unassuming watering hole. But just a bit of investigation proves that it's the kind of place that has something for everyone. The tavern's been there since the 1950s, so it attracts the neighborhood old-timers, but flat-screen TVs and corn-hole boards satisfy younger crowds. No-fuss drinkers can order bottles of Budweiser and PBR, while craft-beer fans will revel in a rotating drink list that has included Deschutes Chainbreaker White and Northcoast PranQster.
No matter what kind of suds you're sipping, you can soak up the libations with a menu of pub food that's available all hours. And they don't skimp on entertainment either. There's open-mic nights on Wednesdays and a karaoke machine on Thursdays, much to the relief of those who can never remember the words to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
For Mark Greenbaum and his father, Lewis, sharing a pizza meant spending quality time as a family. When his father passed away, Mark decided that the best way to honor his memory was to give Chicagoans a taste of the New York–style pie he had loved so much.
Mark’s venture proved wildly successful—Time Out Chicago columnist and Brooklyn transplant Judy Sutton Taylor swears the eatery “could hold its own alongside any Brooklyn pizzeria.” Aside from the traditional thin-crust pies, the menu at New York Slices also features a specialty Grandma’s pizza with a thicker crust and hand-embroidered pepperonis.
At Moccio's Pizzeria, chefs tuck toppings into the tall, chewy ring of a Chicago-style deep-dish crust. The names of house specialties honor local streets and neighborhoods, such as the Northside pizza and the Taylor Street pie, topped with italian beef and giardiniera, a relish of pickled vegetables. Dough whisperers in the kitchen toss pies to a thin, crispy crunch or stuff a layer of molten mozzarella into the crust. Delivery drivers ferry pies to doorsteps faster than a clown car spinning off a banana peel, and chefs also satiate group pizza cravings with catering services.
Family owned since 1932, Alex's Washington Gardens serves a varied menu of sophisticated cuisine, starring fresh seafood and Italian specialties. Amphibious feasters can start with an appetizer of frog legs ($11) before diving into deep-sea delicacies such as salmon stimpinada, which is bathed in citrus, white wine, and red-wine vinegar and sautéed with celery and onion ($25). Hop aboard the from-scratch gravy train with saucy specialties such as pasta primavera, which tempts veggie lovers with a seasonal spread tossed in alfredo or marinara ($18.50), and ravioli al forno, which dresses spinach- and cheese-filled pasta in a demurely delicious ensemble of butter, garlic, and parmesan ($15.50/$10.25). Other offerings include pork chops served Sicilian style with a family of sweet peppers, garlic, and roasted potatoes ($23) and a variety of popular pizzas ($15+).