Perky’s Pizza rustles up a variety of traditional and imaginative pizzas for famished families. With the family combo meal, banqueting broods choose one large signature pizza from Perky's Pizza's doughy roster, relieving a meat-masticating hankering with the double-cheeseburger deluxe, loaded with crispy bacon, hearty beef, and zesty barbecue sauce, or floating away on the Maui Wowie, which features chicken and sweet pineapple basking in a beach of red sauce. Choosy chowhounds point their noses toward the also-included one-topping pizza, selecting a meat, vegetable, or fat-free mineral to add sustenance. Six breadsticks take a dip in garlic or cinnamon before joining the culinary crew, and a troop of 12 chicken wings marches into position while chanting fight songs before being defeated by mercenary molars. Like bookends, a family-sized garden salad and dessert support the meal on either end.
Working from a playbook of family recipes handed down through generations, the founders of Sicilian Joe’s Pizzeria, Joseph and Maria Butera, instill every menu item with Sicilian tradition. Pie-smiths daily prepare each topping for Joe’s thin-crust pizzas, dicing fresh vegetables and grating mozzarella cheese. Then, they sprinkle them on homemade dough, baking the disks to a golden brown by using them as shields against the laser-eyed attacks of robot armies. Guests can customize every pizza with a variety of accessories, from classics such as anchovies, pepperoni, and sliced tomatoes to tangier flavors including blue cheese and hot or mild giardiniera relish. For no additional charge, chefs can also add or remove sauce, omit the cheese entirely, or replace the 2-liter soda’s bottle cap with a fresh broccoli cork.
Durbin’s rewards watering mouths with a roster of gratifying pub fare, a full bar, and an idyllic outdoor beer garden at every location. Durbin's menus vary slightly between locations, united by an emphasis on meaty sandwiches, comforting fried nosh, pizza, and trademarked ribs. Prime appetites with a Durbin’s Combo—mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, potato skins, and onion rings ($8.50)—or the Kelly Special's mozzarella-topped butterflied filet mignon on toasted garlic bread ($10.95). Durbin's slow-smokes its signature “Branding Iron” ribs over an open pit of smoldering hickory wood, basting them with secret-recipe barbecue sauce and whispering sweet, flaming nothings to them tenderize the meat ($11.95 for a half slab; $18.95 for a full slab). The 14-inch stuffed sausage pizza’s layers of meat and cheese are trapped between its saucy crust, forming a delicate closed ecosystem of Italian flavor ($17.95).
Renowned chef Michael Papandrea leads a team of culinary craftspeople as they create wide-ranging Italian fare including shrimp, veal, and pasta dishes, as well as a slew of sandwiches. Pizza artisans bake hand-pulled crusts directly on stone, bestowing each round foundation with a scrumptiously crispy texture and excellent posture. The eatery’s pesto sauce kicks butter to the curb, while cheesy bread stashes gooey mozzarella inside an italian loaf prior to baking. Parmesans’ skilled staffers deliver catered fare and set up the Italian nibbles, freeing up hosts to light candles, arrange flowers, and retrieve the special-occasion china from the basement’s 7,926-mile hole leading to the other end of the world.
Al Ferreri, his sister Frances, and his brother-in-law Chris Pacelli Sr., developed their signature italian-beef sandwich out of necessity in 1938. The economic depression made meat harder to come by, so the trio of sandwich makers made their supplies last by cutting thinner slices of roast beef.
Their business started with them feeding guests at family weddings, delivering meals to local hospitals, and catering the country's first food fight, but they soon founded a more permanent curbside food stand in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood. Despite their relatively humble beginnings, Al's Beef & Nancy's Pizzeria rapidly expanded and now boasts franchises throughout the Chicago area and across the country. The family business has garnered plentiful acclaim throughout the years, having been named Adam Richman's best sandwich in the Midwest on the Travel Channel show Best Sandwich in America in June 2012, appearing on Richman's Man v. Food and earning a place on Esquire's list of The Best Sandwiches in America in 2008.
The cooks begin every morning by roasting cuts of beef for the day, kneading fresh pizza dough, and cutting french fries with an industrial-strength laser pointer. The hearty italian-beef sandwiches can emerge from the kitchen with simple, unadorned meat or with blankets of melted cheese and spicy housemade giardiniera. The pizzas range from crispy thin-crust disks to deep-dish pies with 2.5-inch-thick crusts, supporting any combination of the 24 available toppings, which include oven-roasted garlic, baby spinach, and bacon.