A younger generation of the Monastero clan totes dishes laden with culinary labors of love perfected in the time since Joe Monastero founded Monastero’s Ristorante, now celebrating its 50-year anniversary. Imported Sicilian wines partner with plates piled with house-made pastas and from-scratch feasts wrought from decades-old family recipes. Twelve hand-painted shields showcase the foreign conquerors who left their culinary mark and business-casual armor on Sicily, and a painting of the castle in the Monastero’s hometown transports diners to that sun-soaked land with the aid of live entertainment on weekends.
Deemed by the Miami New Times to have the Best Exotic Frozen Desserts in 2009, Via Veneto Gelato serves up oodles of distinctly flavored gelato and confections to sweet tooth collectives. Score a small dish ($4.59), large dish ($5.50), or sugar cone ($4) packed with 1 of more than 40 frozen flavors such as almond chocolate, Nutella, or tiramisu gelato. The three-scoop waffle cone ($4.99) comes stacked with a toothsome trio such as lychee, pistachio, or Super dulce, which pairs a heroic dulce de leche with chocolate-chips sidekicks to fight against bland, soft-serve foes. Sorbets such as blackberry, mango, and passion fruit nest deliciously in a cup cone ($3.25) and fat-free, sugar-free Doppiozeros such as coconut and strawberry can be whisked out of the establishment in bambino ($2.80), giovani ($3.95), or signor ($6.95) to-go containers. The confectionery also crafts cakes and offers snacks for dessert diners looking to thaw out their palates.
Martino’s Italian Cuisine & Pizzeria, family-owned for more than three decades, hosts a staff of servers who sate sauce-craving appetites with regionally inspired Italian entrees and five types of pizza. Diners sink chompers into succulent Italian beef, stuffed artichokes, and layers of lasagna as they sip martinis at the restaurant’s fully stocked bar or imbibe gulps of free oxygen on the outdoor patio. A quintet of pizza varieties greets teeth with a textural smorgasbord of high-quality toppings spread atop thin, double-dough, calzone, pan, and stuffed crusts.
The owner and head chef of Mia Figlia, John Boudouvas, can trace his culinary ambitions back to his childhood when he worked with his father at their family diner on the north side of Chicago. After he shored up his technical expertise with formal training, Boudouvas toured the world to expand his palate. Upon his return to Chicago, he opened his own classic Italian restaurant, naming it Mia Figlia—Italian for "My Daughter"—to honor his familial legacy.
Today, Chef Boudouvas puts a contemporary spin on traditional dishes from the Boot, which feature handmade whole-wheat pasta and market-fresh fish and meats. Like the airborne missiles at a bad comedy show, the restaurant’s weekly specials depend on what local produce is in season. Regular events enhance the restaurant's homelike ambiance, including weekly jazz performances and monthly wine dinners.
Bustling with plates heaped with zesty comestibles and the musical trickle of wine, Al Primo Canto mimics the lively atmosphere of a Brazilian galeteria with family-style dishes and festive fire-toned lamps. Celebrating pairs and dual-pairs can compare bite marks in thick pieces of roasted eggplant, drizzled with tahini, lemon, and olive oil, before launching pieces of roasted mushroom and goat-cheese bruschetta at each other with a catapult. Side dishes including crispy-fried polenta, shimmying under a shower of grated parmesan cheese, dance around main dishes such as young chicken, marinated in white wine and slow-roasted gaucho-style, or leg of lamb marinated in 15 spices. A bottle of wine lubricates bicameral paper-or-plastic debates among pairs, and two bottles serve as twin juggling clubs for four sure-handed diners.
Davison Road Inn's culinary architects satisfy rumbling stomachs by stacking a bevy of burgers, sandwiches, and a menu of other pub eats. Patrons perched at a tiled bar savor hand-carved, top-round roast beef folded into a Kimmelwick roll ($6.99) as cushy as a pillow filled with marshmallows, or juggle a Reuben with slow-cooked, thin-sliced corned beef ($7.99) between turns at darts or pool. Blue umbrellas dotting a pine-tree-lined patio shade the delivery of Davison Road Inn’s fresh half-pound burgers. The Emerald Isle-inspired patty, topped with Irish cheddar, arrives on a soft pretzel bun ($6.99), and the Bacon Blue burger's twists of applewood bacon and melted blue cheese ($6.99) choose to arrive traditionally in a palanquin carried by four waiters. The ears of Saturday-night diners feast on live music between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.
De Carlucci's Pizzeria & Mexican Grill started out serving just pizza, but when customers told owner Carlos Cisneros that they also craved Mexican food, he acquiesced to their wishes, he told a reporter for Skokie Review. In a New York-style oven, he bakes pies with thin, crisp crusts, loading them with toppings such as shrimp and Italian sausage. Diners can also order stuffed or pan crusts, or opt for a Mexican pizza that pairs mozzarella and cheddar cheeses with taco meat, jalapenos, sliced tomatoes, and two types of olives. Baked pasta dishes, hefty sandwiches, and burritos round out the menu.