The Stop In Family Restaurant serves up hearty portions of classic American comfort fare. Early risers can indulge creative impulses by building towers of fluffy pancakes ($3.59 for three) and using the waffles to make crispy castles with gooey syrup moats ($3.89). Meanwhile, the farmer's omelette yields tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, an edible edition of Poor Richard's Almanack, and a choice of meat ($6.29). At lunch, the three-alarm pizza cranks up the heat with a medley of jalapeños, peppercinis, and banana peppers ($12.95 for 14 in.).
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn?t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, ?Put pizza in it.?
Today, Gino?s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae?s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings?from sausage and pepperoni to jalape?os and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don?t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
The iconic comic-strip character and namesake of Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes peeps out from the first “o” in the deli’s logo, embracing not his wife, Blondie, but the signature Dagwood sandwich. With its four meats and pair of cheeses, the delicious (if slightly intimidating) sandwich represents the more than 20 signature subs and clubs that grace Dagwood’s menu. Meats ranging from premium roast beef to tender pork loin share slices of bread with cheeses, crisp pickles, and all the condiments one might expect of an old-fashioned deli. Those too young to appreciate the shop’s Sunday-paper references will at least enjoy kids’ meals such as the classic grilled-cheese sandwich. Aside from their in-store selections, the deli caters events with colorful trays of meats and sack lunches served by a curiously cartoonish wait staff.
After years working as a sous chef and executive chef, Sean Kelley decided to found his own restaurant, where the rich colors and textures of tapas-style dishes are matched with vibrant decor. In the dining room, guests bite into lamb pops and sip hoppy craft beers from the beer list at booths underneath unearthly artwork. Wine bottles stand half-empty on the bright-red bar nearby as guests savor sharp whites and speak in arch tones about the declining quality of the Aquaman monthly series.
Samuel Mancino's Italianate empire extends throughout the Midwest, with each outpost flaunting a full menu of fresh-baked grinders and pizzas loaded with hearty ingredients. A trifecta of ham, hard salami, and spicy sausage powers the signature italian grinder ($6.49 for an 8"), spurred on to its task of filling bellies by green pepper, onion, and melted mozzarella. Samuel Mancino's chefs toss dough by hand to give it a fluffy texture before it meets its fate as a foundation for pizzas laden with fresh, gourmet topping combinations such as chicken and garlic or ham, bacon, and pineapple ($15.99+). Piping-hot breadsticks return in sugary eveningwear as sweet Cinna-Stix ($5.99), perfect for dessert or as lick-and-stick nest-building materials. Prices may vary by location, though the owner, who recently took over the Erskine Plaza location, is absolutely identical.
Known for singularly flavored and textured focaccia bread—prepared from a recipe eight years in the making—Victorian Pantry offers an ever-changing menu of unique fare in an intimate bistro environment. Try the focaccia in its many guises, including the signature ($5.28), calzone ($3.99), and magic pixie dust incarnations, or warm up with a stomach-soothing tuscan white bean soup ($6.99). Diners sip the house-blended walnut roast coffee as they waft on jazz and classical tunes and lounge with friends on a canopied patio during the western hemisphere's milder seasons or on subzero double-dog dares.