Not a lot of ideas dreamed up on a first date come to fruition. But for Daniela and Brad, their first date in a Sao Paulo pizzeria grew into more than just a romance. With every successive date, their wouldn't-it-be-nice dream of opening a Brazilian-style pizzeria grew too shape. Not too long after, they decided to use the recipes handed down from their Italian ancestors to create their pizzeria, Fogo 2 Go.
In their cozy store-front—taken up by a main counter and an enormous brick oven—they bake crispy, Italian pizzas paired with unique Brazilian influences. Their pies come layered with everything from classic Italian sausages to more unique brie margherita and shrimp scampi toppings. True to the idea's Brazilian roots, they also cook up treats such as coxinha—an empanada filled with seasoned chicken and mashed potatoes—as well as desserts such as flan and Nutella & Banana pizza.
Aside from the Brazilian-Italian comestibles, Fogo's crown jewel is the brick-fired, charbroiled whole, half, or quarter chicken. Thanks to the intensity of the oven's heat and the incantations of the bistro's house shaman, the chicken quick-cooks, leaving a bacon-crisp skin and sealing in juices. What they never decided in their dream was the type of beverages to serve, so the pair let customers make that choice themselves with their BYOB policy. Fogo 2 Go even satisfies late-night hungers by staying open until 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Inspired by the traditional eateries of southern Brazil, Al Primo Canto serves rotisserie-roasted meats and eats in a warm, inviting setting. Opt for a family-style meal of multiple courses ($30 per person), or select from an à la carte menu. Preheat your appetite with a classic Brazilian palate-tickler such as caponatto de beringela, a dish of roasted eggplant with tahini paste ($6). Then, move to a main course of veggie-friendly pasta such as homemade gnocchi caprese with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella ($13) or slow-roasted, mouth-watering meats made in Al Primo Canto's brick-lined charcoal rotisserie, a Brazilian import. Entrees from this alchemical producer of food-gold include the restaurant's signature galeto al primo canto, a young chicken marinated in white wine, fresh garlic, and sage, rotisserie-roasted over natural wood charcoal ($16). Silence any last hunger pangs with desserts such as the Romeo e Julieta, a tragically tasty warm guava cake with vanilla mascarpone sauce ($5).
Texas de Brazil blends the steak-centric cuisine of Texas with the traditional churrasco method of slow-roasting meat over an open flame grill to form a luscious meaty mélange. The full dinner ($39.99) marches out a cavalcade of choice cuts, allowing diners to welcome continuous windfalls of flavorful proteins. Brandish your table's provided card, green on one side, red on the other, and it will function as a meat traffic light that summons servers to either send stacks of seasoned beef, pork, or lamb skewers or halt plate traffic like a decorated culinary crossing guard. Or feel free to substitute greens for the grill by stepping into the sprawling salad-bar conga line ($24.99), two-stepping through toothsome goodies such as imported cheeses, steamed asparagus, and dozens of other hors d'oeuvres.
Rather than stay cooped up the kitchen, Brazzaz's gaucho chefs make forays into the dining area to carve portions of their 18 churrascaria-style, fire-roasted meats for guests. As customers lounge beneath geometric pendant lamps, they can take their pick of Brazilian bites, from succulent slices of tenderloin medallions wrapped in bacon to whole legs of lamb marinated in a secret blend of ingredients. In addition to devouring the all-you-can-eat meats, diners can pair their entrees with selections from the gourmet salad and sides bar, which stocks more than 60 items of seafood, imported cheese, cured meat, and fresh-cut vegetables. After dinner, sweet teeth sink into freshly crafted desserts, which run the gamut from Brazilian flan to chocolate mousse topped with homemade whipped cream. Throughout each feast, bartenders help wash down bites by whipping up cocktails or pouring selections from a sommelier-selected, 150-item wine list, which focuses on vineyards in the Americas from California to the Little California districts in major cities.
With live jazz music, USDA Prime steaks aged at least 21 days, and the freshest of seafood, Pete Miller's Seafood & Prime Steak is a living tribute to the colorful life of Harold “Pete” Miller. Miller grew up an avid hunter, studied History in college, and earned a Purple Heart as a marine in WWII. He even spent time slinging hats, before eventually settling on becoming a music salesman—a profession that would ignite his love of jazz and lead him to the rhythm-rich city of Chicago. Once settled, he discovered the Davis Street Fishmarket in Evanston where he became a regular, albeit outspoken, patron. He incessantly offered recommendations and recipe suggestions, eventually inciting the chef to hand him an apron and shout, “Do it yourself if you think you know so much!” Miller accepted the challenge and kicked off his culinary career with his usual flair and spontaneity.
Today, the pair of restaurants proudly carrying his name keep his legacy alive, hosting live jazz almost every night of the week, just like he would have wanted. In addition to the regular dinner menu, which features the likes of whole steamed lobsters and bone-in fillets, there’s also a bar menu that boasts more casual eats, such as burgers and sandwiches dressed in khaki slacks. The Wheeling location’s 250-seat patio features a granite bar with room for 50 people, as well as three huge fireplaces.
For Chef Rob, cooking fine cuisine is a family affair. He learned his skills at the knee of his Sicilian grandmother, who taught him everything he knows about how to run a kitchen. Today, he still hones his recipes in a similar setting, cooking furiously as his wife and daughter stand ready to dutifully taste his creations. After finishing his at-home experiments with the daily haul from the local market, he heads to Wilmette Chop House to begin preparing food for that night‘s hungry customers.
During the dinner rush, Rob welcomes many of the same faces that he laughed and joked with at the market that morning. He oversees a grill filled with filet mignon, lobster tails, and his signature double-cut bone-in smoked pork chops. These delicious proteins come out hot on the heels of fresh-baked bread, acquired from Heavenly Hearth Bakery just around the corner. To wash down Chef Rob’s creations, bartenders mix up the restaurant’s signature cocktail—the Thin Mintini. In addition to describing the drink's refreshing taste, the beverage’s name also hints at the building’s history; the venue once served as the original bakery for the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Not content to cater only to two of the five senses, Rob also retains the services of professional musicians at his piano bar on most evenings, who wow audiences and reviewers with their skill at the keys and with catching food tossed at their mouths.