Italian Restaurants in Lake Forest

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At Ferentino's Pizzeria, the keystone of the menu isn't pizza, but something more basic: bread. Homemade garlic focaccia bread, to be precise. This expertly seasoned mainstay provides the groundwork for many of the restaurant's dishes, acting as a side for pasta entrees—whose noodles and sauces are made fresh daily—and as a foundation for grilled panino sandwiches. Of course, pizzas aren't an afterthought, either. Guests can order pies in one of four styles: thin, deep-dish, stuffed, or Roma, which decorates that same focaccia bread in cheese, toppings, and a to-scale seating chart of the Coliseum. Seven specialty pizzas, such as the buffalo chicken ranch or the feta- and spinach-dressed Mediterranean, arrive with predetermined fixings. For those who prefer the comforting glow of their own oven, chefs also compose "Take and Bake" pizzas to be cooked at home.

842 N Western Ave
Lake Forest,
IL
US

Carried out by pie fans or delivered to their doors, fresh toppings and sauces parade out of Donati's Pizza on discs of the kitchen's signature dough, alongside a menu's worth of casual Italian fare. Spinach-cheese bread primes palates as a melty, crusty starter ($4.99), and the artichoke salad's hearts recite sonnets to the cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers from their romaine-lettuce nest ($6.99). Diners may blueprint their own pizzas, choosing from six sizes and more than 20 toppings to fashion a bespoke feast. Scatter canadian bacon and hot giardiniera across a large pizza ($15.50) or personalize a pie by inviting italian beef, enviously green olives, and mushrooms home for dinner ($7.99). Specialty pizzas leave the design to the professionals, such as the Southside ($14+), whose bacon slices splay across a grid of sausage and onion. A choice of italian, farm-fresh ranch, or metaphysical dressing paints sandwiches ($5.99), such as the provolone-graced barbecue chicken, which arrives hot or cold on focaccia or french bread.

950 N Western Ave
Lake Forest,
IL
US

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.

432 Sheridan Rd
Highwood,
IL
US

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.

581 Roger Williams Ave
Highland Park,
IL
US

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.

1626 Deerfield Rd
Highland Park,
IL
US

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+).

256 Green Bay Rd
Highwood,
IL
US

Lake Forest Scene