Many families gather for holidays, weddings, and other special events. The Kambouris and Zaronias clans also convene to celebrate Greek and American cuisine at Maxim's Restaurant, their eatery, cocktail lounge, and catering service. Their lunch and dinner menu brims with hearty comfort food such as homemade soup, roast turkey with dressing, shish kebobs, and more than a dozen types of pasta dishes. Tivoli pizzas, one of the kitchen's specialties, can be ordered Greek-style with gyro meat and feta cheese or American-style with hamburger or barbecued pork. From 6 a.m. to midnight, the cooks also prepare homestyle breakfasts, including omelets, biscuits and gravy, and crepes with fruit or chocolate chips. In the lounge and sports bar, mixologists pour domestic drafts and craft colorful cocktails such as bloody marys and Maxim's fruit punch. The space also hosts toga parties teeming with ouzo shots, bottled beers, and music from a live DJ.
Family owned for over 35 years! The tradition began when Angelo opened the doors in 1976, his sons Larry & Peter took over a few years later. From there they have expanded to 9 family owned locations and 9 franchises. All of the franchise owners continue the tradition of family owned and operated restaurants.
Inside of a charming century-old brick building overlooking Crown Point’s bustling square, head chef Carl Lindskog stays busy crafting combinations of Italian and Japanese edibles culled form the mindparts of experienced edibles. His feasts of grilled seafood, focaccia, steak and pasta grace cloth-clad tables downstairs in Amoré Ristorante, where the vintage bar dating from Chicago's 1933 World's Fair enshrines a heel print from 1930s dancer Sally Rand. Upstairs, Lindskog’s delectable sushi rolls, tempura, and dumplings pair with 109 Lounge’s 34 specialty martinis. Live music frequently fills the air during the evening hours, complementing the chef’s creations with a laid-back attitude that permits smoking and encourages playing hooky from other, less interesting dinners.
The burger artisans at Smashmouth Burgers & Pizza fire a fresh array of American fare from their fully stocked menu and carefully craft a selection of recipes each week. Celebrate the right to bear burgers with a plethora of 2-ounce Smash burgers, each bolstering a bouquet of caramelized onions, pickles, and bistro sauce ($0.99), or with a Monster Smash cheeseburger meal, which balances lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, pickles, and bistro sauce on a precarious half-pound patty of seasoned ground beef ($8.99). In addition to harvesting fresh burgers from its private orchard each morning, Smashmouth’s staff also designs submarine sandwiches and signature pizzas. Patrons can sink incisors into the chorizo-and-jalapeño-laden South of the Border pizza ($14.99–$17.99), or the Alfredo pie, which orchestrates a meeting of the minds among spinach, mushroom, and alfredo ($14.99–$17.99), wherein the ingredients discuss creating an edible replica of Michelangelo's Last Judgment.
Antonio and Rosa DeRosa came from a long line of merchants who sold Italian staples such as pasta, olive oil, and wine in Montedecoro, Italy. The family was well known around Naples for these provisions, and when Antonio and Rosa immigrated to America in 1926, they stocked their business, DeRosa Imports, with these same Old World staples.
Today, grandson Anthony DeRosa runs the shop, where he upholds tradition by importing extra-virgin Sicilian olive oil, Italian espresso, and pastas ranging from rigatoni to gnocchi. Over time, the family has expanded their selection to include products from countries such as Croatia and Serbia. Artisanal pickles, sauces, and jams infused with rose hips or sour cherries line the shelves, along with bottles of wine to pair with dinner or pour on thirsty houseplants.
Giuseppe "Joe" Scalzo had to turn down his first opportunity to manage a restaurant, a small trattoria in Calabria he'd been working in as he attended school. He had spent his entire professional career working in Tuscan eateries and wanted the job, but his educational path led him to Chicago's Loyola University in pursuit of a business degree. It didn't take him long to realize that the thing he missed most about home was working in a restaurant. With his newly acquired business acumen, he began his foray into opening Italian restaurants: first Piazza Bella, then Via Carducci, and finally his most recent labor of love, Ciao Bella Ristorante.
The kitchen is nestled behind a black-and-white photographic mural, which hints at the sunshine that sparkles along the Mediterranean coastline. Greenery flanks the piece, providing contrast along with the warm, saturated red walls painted with real marinara sauce. As guests revel under dim lighting amid the elegant atmosphere, plates of carefully crafted Italian cuisine arrive at tables alongside traditional thin-crust pizza. The restaurant recently expanded its bar and lounge areas and added a new banquet area for private parties that can seat up to 70. Joe's personal favorite pie is the quattro stagioni, for its savory blend of prosciutto, artichokes, and black olives.
At Ed Debevic's, every house burger, hot dog, and diner entree shares a not-so-secret ingredient: sass. The servers welcome guests to the vintage venue with tongue-in-cheek remarks and paper deli hats, seating them next to vibrant examples of what Centerstage calls "smart-aleck decor": fake autographs, old-timey ads, and signs that carry proverbs such as "Eat Now…Pay Waiter." The mischievously retro tone is cultivated in homage to one of the owner's favorite restaurants, Lill's Homesick Diner. Back in the '50s and '60s, Lill acquainted Ed with the classic flavors of comfort food cooked from scratch, showcasing the spirited moxie that made her a standout in the short-order world.
Ed chose to emulate both her classic cooking and feistiness at his own diner. Many of his menu items are housemade, including the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, the desserts, and the blue-cheese sauce on top of the Ed's Blue Moon burger. Milk shakes and malts pair well with a variety of hot dogs and sandwiches, especially when counterbalancing the effects of Atomic Mix: a blend of diced jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes that garnishes certain plates. The staff stays in comically impudent character throughout these meals. And every now and then, the servers pause to put on countertop dance numbers that are almost as exciting as the time your grandpa turned the lazy Susan into a zoetrope.