Dissatisfied with the slices of pie at fast-food joints, CravePizza owner Rafael tinkered with recipes for savory dough and hearty tomato sauce until he was satisfied. He opened CravePizza to craft pies from the basic foundation of buttery-crust dough, custom-spiced sauce, and a house blend of cheese. Three chefs with 40 years of collective experience toss thin, pan, or stuffed pies and top them with traditional meats and vegetables, as well as unexpected options such as roast beef, shrimp, and cilantro. The family-friendly restaurant welcomes customers dining in to enjoy a drink from the full bar, and delivery and pickup orders receive the same piping-hot fare with a free box.
When paired with blues chords, the smell of barbecue sauce transcends the normal sensory experience. Housemade dry rubs and sauces sink into smoked brisket, turkey, pulled pork, baby back ribs as the meat smokes slowly over a mix of hickory and applewood chips. Blues Bar masters this ethereal combination of soulful sounds and soul food, coupling weekends of live music with saucy ribs and sides of honey-chipotle corn bread and homemade fries. Inside the lofted dining room, tables look down onto the bar and its 24 HDTV screens that play live sporting events. Also you can find well over 75 plus craft bottled beers and 20 continually rotated draft craft beers. The blues joint’s decor pays tongue-in-cheek tribute to Chicago icons the Blues Brothers with a larger-than-life mural of the smart-suited duo and a full-sized vintage squad car in which John Belushi’s hat was once arrested for armed robbery.
On a sizzling hearth within the depths of a Neapolitan-style wood-burning oven bake hand-tossed rounds of dough, bubbling and crisping to perfection. The chefs festoon the dough with a variety of ingredient combinations; their much-loved margherita reveals traditional tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil, while their prosciutto crudo e rucola adds imported prosciutto and fresh arugula to the mix. Beyond their gourmet pizza, the kitchen team prepares a dinner menu cataloging a large selection of traditional pastas, such as plump gnocchi, farfalle in a pesto cream sauce, or lasagna that's tastefully layered, like someone wearing every item of clothing they own.
The staff welcomes patrons to relax beneath an elegant lattice ceiling and hanging lamps. Leather chairs surround tables, which are surrounded by exposed brick, which is surrounded by friendly conversation, which is surrounded by the biggest Russian doll.
Food has found a good home at Emerson’s Ale House. Here, chefs present half-pound burgers with pretzel buns and their very own beer pairings—the Smoke House burger with manchego cheese and pulled pork pairs with Rogue Dead Guy ale, for example, and the Roy-Ale burger with fried egg, smoked bacon, and English cheddar lines up nicely with Three Floyds' Robert the Bruce. To char-grilled salmon they add a side of dirty rice; to braised short ribs, garlic smashed potatoes. And they grant their desserts—chocolate-crepe cake, bread pudding, and Chicago-style raspberry cheesecake—the power to satisfy two diners at once, even if both are very upset about a failed attempt to gerrymander their foe’s sock drawer.
Emerson's TV collection helps patrons take in the game with friends, and its complimentary bacon bar provides the opportunity to see if bacon still tastes like bacon. Because liquor bottles only prosper when they're close to other liquor bottles, Emerson's has wisely grouped them all together behind the bar, where they huddle in wait before getting all mixed up inside your glass.
At Bar Louie, a menu furnishes plates with burgers, sandwiches, and seafood as specialty cocktails wet whistles and flat screens beam sports games into eyeballs. A fried egg balances perfectly atop the layers of bacon and cheddar of the fried Louie burger ($10.50), which arrives at its target table with a side of french fries. Burger gobblers tiring of beef can opt for a patty of chicken, turkey, or portabella. Seared ahi tuna ($16) wears a sesame-seed coat to protect it from unseasonable floods of sichuan sauce, flurries of cilantro, and invasions of sautéed vegetables. Beer-battered Drunken fish 'n' chips ($13) come with seasoned fries and tarter sauce, and hoagie rolls bookend the Luigi's shaved rib-eye steak ($11) next to a nest of french fries. Specialty cocktails include Louie's cosmo, whose Absolut Citron welcomes dollops, splashes, and timid pours of orange liqueur, fresh lime and white cranberry juices, and syrup.
Giacomo's Ristorante Italiano has been a family affair ever since Sicilian-born Chef Giacomo Zito, his wife Anna Maria, and daughter Amanda originally opened the eatery in 1998. Above all else, the Zitos sought to create a casually elegant setting where locals could find the familiar tastes of authentically grounded southern Italian cuisine. As Chef Giacomo told Check, Please!, "I want [diners] to say, 'this is the way restaurants used to be.'"
He embraces these time-honored roots by adhering closely to culinary tradition and making fresh pastas every day. This unwavering dedication to comforting flavors of Old World cuisine is readily apparent throughout the menu, which overflows with familiar classics, including braciole, eggplant parmigiana, and hearty lasagna with layer after layer of ground beef, ricotta and mozzarella, meat sauce, and polenta. Even the tiramisu goes one step beyond the traditional trattoria staple by using imported ladyfingers soaked in espresso and various Italian liqueurs.
The timeless quality of the cuisine is echoed by the cozy, homespun ambiance in the restaurant's dining area. Exposed brickwork lends a rustic vibe to the space, although there's a fine attention to detail, such as tables draped with crisp white linens and the black napkins folded into perfect dodecahedrons. During the snow-free months, the restaurant also features an outdoor seating area.