Portabella Bakery & Cafe's red-brick oven dispenses flame-kissed pizzas while chefs stack meats on sandwiches and wrap sugary dough around traditional Italian pastries. With more than a decade of experience in the Italian restaurant business, the Matera family prances down the kitchen’s aisles, piling gourmet toppings such as feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts onto personal pizzas and focaccia paninis.
Sourdough bowls brim with an ever-shifting selection of house-made soups, and the bakery’s glass displays showcase muffins, cannolis, and bagels affectionately modeled after Italian moped wheels. Cups of Seattle's Best Coffee, bottles of domestic and imported beers, and glasses of white and red wines rest on wooden tabletops, and waiters reenact the burning of Rome by pausing to play the fiddle beside a roaring fireplace.
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.
Since 1981, the ovens of Michaelangelo's Pizza have produced piping-hot pizzas piled with a variety of toppings. Sausage, pepperoni, olives, and pineapple arrive on delectable thin crusts. Meanwhile, pasta sauces coat lasagna, spaghetti, and ravioli. Steak sandwiches, hamburgers, and meatball sandwiches pair well with beers such as Peroni, Heineken, and Miller.
Brick 3 Pizza’s chefs make their pies so easily accessible, it’s a wonder the city’s residents are eating anything else. While most pizza places are content to deliver their pies to doorsteps, Brick 3 Pizza offers eat-in, delivery, catering, and curbside service for clients craving their menu of specialty New York-style pizzas. The shop’s doors even stay open until 4 a.m. on weekends, allowing barhoppers to finish their night with a slice of mac ‘n’ cheese, mostaccioli-and-meatballs, or pesto-chicken pizza. Brick’s gigantic 34-inch extra-large pizza is a meal boon for guests with a lot of mouths to feed or as bait to catch Sylvester Stallone. Alongside their pizzas, the staff creates handheld calzones and traditional desserts such as cannoli and cheesecake.
Dough leaps from chefs' hands and pirouettes in midair before donning Rustico Pizzeria's slew of fresh toppings such as pine nuts, goat cheese, and eggplant, with gluten-free pizza and pasta available upon request. The menu includes 10 types of sandwiches, some of which are made crispy atop a sizzling grill, and pastas arrive at tables draped in slow-stewed tomato sauce and white-wine b?chamel. A rustic dining room is decked with brick walls, hardwood floors, and sturdy chandeliers. Outside, a wooden patio affords pristine views of the Milwaukee River, and an ideal station from which to christen passing ships with bottles from the Italian wine list.
Crisp Pizza Bar & Lounge’s super-heated Neapolitan-style oven bakes crunchy cracker-like crusts topped with chef-curated ingredient bouquets or build-your-own-pizza creations. The restaurant also transforms into a morning-meal factory for Friday–Sunday brunches, flipping expectations on the heads with funky adaptations of morning classics, such as the breakfast pizza topped with scrambled eggs and a pepperoni-wrapped alarm clock. By night, the eatery doubles as a music venue, with a rotating schedule of DJs setting hips asway with high-octane playlists.