For more than 30 years, Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage has served up a Chicago-centric menu of beef sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs. Silence empty-belly rumblings with one of Pop's delectable beef sandwiches ($4.19–$6.35), such as the italian beef, heaped with mounds of succulent, thin-sliced beef soaked in special spices and natural gravy. Windy-city visitors can delight in the classic Chicago hot dog and the savory polish sausage (each around $2.29–$2.99, depending on location), each nestled underneath mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and the looming shadow of oscillating skyscrapers. Other handheld fare includes the meatball and corned-beef sandwiches, which can be upgraded with a variety of extras, including red sauce, sweet peppers, hot mix (all free on sandwiches, extra as a side), feta cheese, and bacon. A fleet of made-from-scratch soups and salads is also available, and includes such options as the hearty cream-of-chicken rice soup and the large garden salad ($2.09–$3.99).
Chef Faustino Giron, a longtime Brookfield resident and owner of eight restaurants in the Chicagoland area, decided to open Giron's to supply his hometown with signature stuffed-crust pizzas and crispy thin-crust pies. Specialty toppings such as italian beef and hot giardiniera can ornament pizzas split between families of diners or families of accountants. The kitchen also creates towers of house-made lasagna and full slabs of ribs brushed with thick barbecue sauce. Inside the dining area, yellow walls display paintings of bustling chefs and red accent walls offset the full bar.
Paisans supplies fresh pies with sauces concocted fresh daily, hearty pastas, and steaming sandwiches in a casual, familiar atmosphere. Start off with a six-piece ensemble of hot wings ($5.25) before infusing a disk with your own thin-crust symphony ($10.99 for 14") from a euphonious selection of more than 20 fresh embellishments such as ricotta, canadian bacon, and cream of bassoon ($1.95 a piece), or arrange ingredients on a stuffed or deep-dish dough canvas ($12.50 for 12", plus $1.90 per topping).
Three popular chefs collaborate on the dinner dishes of Francesca’s Belleza, assembling elegant, rustic Italian cuisine in-house using fresh ingredients. The trio’s also affiliated with The Violet Hour, Simone’s, and The Publican, and they’ve earned acclaim from outlets such as the Chicago Sun-Times and WGN. Salad artists create edible still lifes with selections such as the insalata caprese, an arrangement of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella ($7.99), which, unlike most oil paintings, proves eminently chewable. Gourmet pizzas boast carefully calibrated toppings, with varieties such as the quattro stagioni, a blend of prosciutto, artichoke, olive, and egg ($10.99), whereas pastas cure carb cravings with selections such as the penne con melanzane, replete with eggplant and spicy tomato sauce ($14.99). Drown hunger pangs and any tiny mariners shipwrecked on your tongue with a wave of maritime entrees, including the salmone al balsamico, which comes layered with balsamic sauce and fresh tomatoes ($19.99). Pork eaters can opt for the costoletta di maiale alla rustica, or pork chops with rosemary and pancetta ($21.99), as they take in the white linens and black-and-white photography that constitute Francesca’s elegant décor.
Vasco Marconi immigrated to Chicago from a small town in Tuscany in 1959, bringing his wife, his son, and a slew of authentic recipes with him. He opened an Italian restaurant on the west side of Chicago, where it prospered until his retirement in 1997, when John Marconi took on his father's torch and moved the eatery to La Grange. Since then, the Marconi family has kept the family recipes alive in their bustling, family-style restaurant through frequent practice and routine cookbook séances. John still oversees the menu, paying homage to his father’s original recipes with homemade meat ravioli, chicken vesuvio, and a bounty of seasonal specialties.