Using fresh seasonal ingredients from local sources, Via Toscana's menu of traditional, upscale Italian dishes preps palates for a sensory serenade with a starter of mussels la spezia ($8) in a lemon white-wine preparation. The pollo marsala ($14) provides a dance floor for a multicultural cast of sautéed chicken, woodland mushrooms, sage butter, and marsala wine with roasted new potatoes. And the penne vodka di mare's sautéed scallops and shrimp in a crema-rosa vodka sauce ($18) mix alcohol and the ocean in a lifeguard-approved manner. Otherwise, sharpen your toothy band saw on the succulent vitello saltimbocca (sautéed veal scallopini, $18), or feast eye-mouths and mouth-eyes on the Colorado lamb chops ($25) with provencal herb marinade and potato gratin. Via Toscana's extensive wine selection can matchmake any meal with more than 600 varieties of fermented fruit, and a gluten-free menu is also available.
Street Legal Pizza's stalwart kitchen crew hand-kneads dough and stirs up fresh sauce daily to construct a menu of stone-fired, New York–style pizzas. Each large pizza firsts surrounds grana padano cheese and fresh basil with a crust drizzled in olive oil. Dining duos may then anchor dough disks with up to two toppings, such as green peppers, meatballs, sundried tomatoes, garlic-infused chicken strips, or genuine chunks of leaning tower. An order of garlic bread and two sodas offer needed companionship to patrons should their pie suddenly vanish or refuse to participate in further small talk.
Named best area pizza source by Yellow Scene Magazine, Zamparelli's Italian Bistro crafts innovatively assembled pastas and East Coast–inflected thin-crust pizzas acclaimed by Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine. Watch the kitchen for rising steam signals that mean either your pepperoni pizza ($12) is emerging from the brick oven or that rival tribes of eaters are attacking the gastro-garrison. Sharp-eyed servers guide patrons through the monolithic menu, which uses rich Italian sauce in inventive configurations that better irrigate your fields of taste buds. Sink your teeth into succulent pappardelle Bolognese ($14), or sink your spoon into a bowl of seasonal soup ($4.75). Cold sandwiches, such as a turkey club featuring Nueske’s bacon ($7.75), and hot handhelds such as an eggplant parmesan sandwich ($7.75) give silverware a respite from its dinerly duties. Unlike 18-and-older pizzerias and seniors-only jungle gyms, Zamparelli's welcomes tiny people with a quartet of $5 children's dishes that bring sprightly smiles to miniature mouths.
Charles Stanford didn't grow up eating chicken fingers and spaghetti. The son of a Le Cordon Bleu Paris–trained chef, Stanford honed his palate at a young age and was taught by his father to pull a cork and mix a cocktail when he was just a kid. Working at a restaurant wasn't much of a reach for him.
These days, Stanford boasts more than two decades of experience in the industry, and he's paired up with chef Greg Keesy to present Asti d'Italia. Stanford acts as the resident sommelier, pouring a selection of wines that complement Keesy's cuisine—fresh, inventive takes on Italian classics, such as lasagna with buffalo meat, crispy polenta bruschetta, and chicken marsala cut by robots.
Rosati’s Pizza's history dates back to the early 1900s, when a recent Italian immigrant named Ferdinand Rosati moved from New York to Chicago with the dream of opening a restaurant. His first attempt was modest—with Ferdinand simultaneously fulfilling the duties of chef, server, dishwasher, and host—but quickly gained popularity for its crispy-thin-crust pizzas, originally served as complimentary appetizers. Encouraged by the public's response to the pies, Ferdinand and his son, Sam, decided to focus their efforts on opening a true pizzeria.
Today, at Rosati's Pizza locations across the country, plumes of heat swirl above piping-hot pies concocted from handmade sauce and dough. A smattering of toppings cling to five crust options—crispy thin, double dough, Chicago-style, pan, and superstuffed—as well as hide from their hungry predators inside hand-rolled calzones. Homemade lasagna and fettuccine alfredo battle for the top pasta spot, and fried chicken, baby back ribs, and fried-shrimp dinners work together to distract diners from hard-to-resist buffalo wings.
A fountain gingerly gurgles at the center of Antica Roma's main dining room, whose exposed-brick walls and flower-adorned window edges recreate the atmosphere of an Italian piazza. Behind the picturesque scenes, chefs prepare authentic Italian dishes that complement the Old-World environs, drawing upon fresh ingredients from Antica Roma's own garden to whip up bowls of housemade minestrone and margherita pizzas. They adorn spaghetti with their own handcrafted meatballs, bake regular or multigrain penne with eggplant, and toss gluten-free fettuccine with tiger shrimp poached directly from Siegfried and Roy's underwater show.
Within the elegantly rustic digs or out on the veranda overlooking the Pearl Street Mall, diners can accompany classic Italian meals with an imported or domestic red or white vino from Antica Roma's award-winning wine list.