Island Sports Bar and Grill maintains the balance between good food and good fun, serving up hearty bar food to complement a full schedule of social events. The kitchen crew grills beef, turkey, and veggie burgers to order, and tops Vienna hot dogs with all the Chicago fixings. Meanwhile, customers strut their stuff during Monday-night line dancing and karaoke, learn stepping lessons on Tuesday, listen to a live band on Wednesday, cut loose at ladies night on Thursday, or slap their knees in jubilant joy or subtle spasm during the Friday-night comedy hour. The middle of the week brings a host of events.
After Italian-born founders Vince and Nina Santoro immigrated to Chicago in 1969, they first sought out jobs delivering Italian bread and waiting tables, but they decided to take a risk and open their first restaurant in 1988. Their gamble paid off, as locals flocked to their dining room to taste authentic Old World cuisine made from Vince and Nina's time-tested recipes. In the kitchen, the chef rolls his own ricotta gnocchi and enhances select entrees with servings of seasonal vegetables. The menu also features pollo parmiagiana pounded pizza-thin and a risotto that, like the expression on the face of a statue in the park, changes daily. The restaurant's rustic charm extends to the dining room, which features Venetian-plaster walls, paintings in gilded and dark wooden frames, and wrought-iron chandeliers.
Odyssey Sweet Spot lets players unwind with cold beverages, sizzling pub fare, and a lineup of crisp high-definition TVs that funnel sporting events throughout the tavern. As bartenders sling drink specials, full table-size shuffleboard and Golden Tee 2014 arcade games allow players to enjoy the game of golf while still giving misbehaving 9-irons the silent treatment. The attached 24-station driving range gives golfers plenty of space to practice their shots, with 12 heated stalls available for cooler weather.
The dedicated butchers at Prime Choice Market have plied their meaty trade for over 20 years, coaxing delectable primal cuts and slices from top-quality meats. Mouthwatering new york strip steaks ($21.99/lb.) lounge in an edible aura of East Coast swank, and tasty baby back ribs ($6.99/lb.) regale diners with non-nonsense deliciousness. A palatable selection of Boar’s Head deli meats resides behind the old-school display counter, proffering tasty cuts of Ovengold turkey breast ($9.99/lb.) and savory slivers of deluxe ham ($9.49/lb.) for scarf-worthy sandwiches or bookmarks.
Papa's Fresh Foods serenades sweet cravings with a plethora of freshly ovened cupcakes. Like a Chia Pet on its first birthday, single servings of cakey bliss wear slatherings of homemade frosting, from the chocolate overload⎯a chocolate butter cake topped with rich chocolate butter cream and shavings⎯to the tangy key lime, decked out in a tasteful chapeau of cream-cheese frosting. In addition to classic flavors, a variety of less-common fluff fills Papa's cupcakes, breaking tradition in a more edible way than letting the baby carve the Thanksgiving turkey. The peanut-butter butter cream, jelly, and fresh-ground nuts of the peanut-butter-and-jelly cupcake provides a sweet upgrade to the lunch-pail standby, and chocolate ganache outfits the frosting-filled Hostess with the mostess.
Chef Dan McGee has worked in Paris, Switzerland, and Peru as well as spending time in the states at restaurants such as Charlie Trotters. Using fresh ingredients to create the dishes that grace the seasonal menu, Chef McGee whips up tongue-tapping appetizers such as duck confit ravioli with sautéed spinach and balsamic apples ($9) and a goat cheese gratin with ratatouille and a garlic crostini ($8). An asparagus soup with oregano and feta cheese is gracefully poured tableside, and can then be smoothly poured into your mouth tureen ($7). Entrees include the grilled fillet of beef, which nestle next to potato truffle risotto and asparagus ($29), while the crab and horseradish crusted tilapia swims alongside jasmine rice and champagne sauce ($19). Staple yourself down to a seat at the bar and peep through the kitchen window to watch chefs summon ingredients by waving their spatula wands, or order a libation from the full bar, which features specialty martinis and more than 50 wines, as well as microbrews, domestics, and imports.