Alibaba Retro Restaurant's menu of Slavic and Mediterranean dishes, from goulash and blintzes to chicken kebabs and lamb steaks, tops tables surrounded by yellow walls bearing colorful murals. Bartenders serve drinks from a fully stocked bar in the back of the restaurant as music fills the dining room. The eatery often rearranges tables so that patrons can dance or practice karate in the middle of the room.
Cucina Biagio dispels hunger pangs with flavorful soups, salads, and hearty Italian pastas and pizzas. Ravenous appetites get a playful ribbing from starters such as the minestrone zuppa ($2.95/cup, $4.25/bowl) or the caprese salad, mozzarella flanked by loyal sidekicks tomato and red onion and dressed for digestive success in a light balsamic vinaigrette ($8.95). Fill up with the certified-Angus-beef entrees, such as the filet mignon in a red-wine mushroom sauce served with roasted potatoes and vegetables ($30.95), or bear down on a slew of wood-fired-oven pizzas, available in a variety of styles—stuffed, pan, thin-crust, and earth-crust ($10.95).
Sister eatery to the pizza-centric Villa Napoli restaurant, Pavone serves the same savory pies along with an upscale menu filled with authentic Italian dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Inaugurate a night of fork dress-up with a plate of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella ($11), followed by a pasta course of tagliatelle alla Maria, with the choice of chicken or shrimp slathered in a white-wine lemon butter sauce ($13). Unlike acclaimed film-trailer directors, Pavone’s chefs devote themselves to creating gripping main attractions; the chicken vesuvio, its featured bird, is sautéed on the bone with olive oil, garlic, white wine, and potatoes ($13). The New Zealand rack of lamb flanks a hemisphere’s worth of grilled flavor with sides of asparagus and roast potatoes ($23). Cap off your mealsperience with succulent desserts such as gelato ($3) or tiramisu ($5).
Bije’s makes pizza lovers feel at home with delicious recipes and friendly service in a laid-back neighborhood bar. Built around a pizza recipe smuggled from the marinara-soaked hills of Lucca, Italy, the menu features a mouthwatering selection of feastitudes for every appetite. Start with a Wambo Combo platter, where fried zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, and mozzarella sticks form a crunchy golden dream team of finger foods ($7.95), before trying a crispy, thin-crust pizza. Forged from hand-tossed dough and topped with handfuls of cheese, vegetables, and meats, each disk delights diners with a personalized collection of toppings ($11.95 for a large, up to $2 per topping). Specialty pies offer a preselected lineup of ingredients such as the fiery buffalo-wing pizza ($12.25 for a large) or Bije's International ($16.75 for a large), a savory summit of prosciutto, mushrooms, and carmelized onions with a romano-cream sauce. Sandwich lovers rejoice at Bije’s choices of bun stuffers lined with italian beef ($5.85) and italian sausage ($5.75), while carb cravers try the house-made ravioli stuffed with meat, cheese, or spinach ($6.95).
At Rex Italian Foods, Josephine Pinello and her son Anthony prepare what Time Out Chicago describes as "rare items" from their native Sicily. Their signature schiacciatas—which are like a mixture between pizza and paninis—drew the attention of Guy Fieri's _Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, which aired a segment in which Anthony Pinello reveals the secrets of the family recipe for the dish. Available in five varieties, the schiacciatas blend fresh peppers, cheese, and a variety of ingredients on panini-pressed bread, creating a dish so iconic it's depicted on the 5-euro bill, though the dish itself is only accepted as currency at banks during lunchtime. The eatery's house-made pastas, hand-stuffed Italian sausages, and imported deli meats are available for dine-in, carryout, or catering.
Owners Tony and Dan conjured Caponies Trattoria as teenagers, envisioning an authentic Italian eatery sustained by a menu of Tony’s time-tested Old World recipes. Now at a new location after 16 years in the same spot, Caponies Trattoria still boasts the same owners and culinary pedigree. The Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago magazine praise the restaurant’s wood-burning brick oven, where crackling infernos forge 10 specialty pizzas without employing the kitchen’s long-since-decommissioned staff dragon. Crack chefs challenge guests with devising their own pasta from any combination of 7 noodles, 10 toppings, and 8 robust sauces, such as a spice-laden meat sauce and the Suprema’s blissful union of alfredo and marinara. Neon signage accompanies aged family photographs atop a stone archway, ushering diners into a charming rustic interior buzzing with a convivial vibe fueled by the bar’s selection of domestic and imported beers.