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.
Danny’s Cafe warmly serves what co-owner Carl Dote described as “Italian peasant food” on Danny’s Check, Please! feature. Their cooking aims to comfort, from generously stuffed artichokes to their signature fried-meatball sub. The hefty sandwich, highlighted on WGN, comes to fruition after staff members hand-form fresh meatball mix into patties and pile on fried peppers. Co-owner and chef Paula Dote told ABC’s “Hungry Hound” that when she and her husband bought the restaurant, she wanted to make exactly what she made at home, and indeed, she uses recipes from her mother and mother-in-law in all of her cooking and homemade volcano experiments. She ladles vodka sauce and crumbled sausage over homemade rigatoni, and layers provolone, parmesan, mozzarella, and ricotta in the four-cheese lasagna. Pork neck bones, one of Danny's more unique dishes, are served twice a week and praised by Hungry Hound for the tender meatiness resulting from hours spent simmering in spiced tomatoes. The eatery has also spawned relatives—appropriately named “Cuzzin’s Cafe”—that serve similar dishes in Des Plaines and Orland Park.
The Wehmeier Portraits studio has a warm, family feel to it. And that’s no surprise, given that Rob Wehmeier and his wife Elise run the place. Inside, there is a living room with a leather couch, a baby-changing area, and a selection of beverages and snacks—amenities all designed to make families feel at home on the day of their portrait session. As parents themselves, Rob and Elise understand how short youngsters’ attention spans can be, so they encourage kids to play while they set up the studio. Clients return to the leather couches five–seven days after their session to view projections of their photos.
Rob has been a professional photographer since 1991, and he has knack for arranging subjects into poses, whether it’s directing a large family into a unified group or guiding a solo high-school senior into the shape of a diploma. The Wehmeiers' studio allows for some flexibility, too; it has one whitewashed wall, another wall for patterned backdrops, and a third wall for colored panels. Occasionally, the Wehmeiers haul their camera gear away from the homey studio to photograph weddings and on-location events.
In the Old World, castles were places to live, govern, and seek shelter. Today, there are still places designed to keep the outside world at bay, but rather than standing as bastions of military defense, they serve as oases of relaxation, fitness, and fun. Riviera Country Club and Sports Center is one such getaway. There, members can explore a vast campus of athletic and recreation amenities including indoor and outdoor pools, a full gym, and a spa. Though the club’s organizers leave plenty of time for individuals to play in each space, they also host organized events, including regular group fitness classes such as boot camp, kickboxing, and Latin dance. They maintain a vast array of sports courts, as well, allowing members to feed their competitive sides in basketball, tennis, and racquetball arenas. As adults young and old sweat during their chosen forms of play, staffers help tykes explore their creativity in a play space known as the Sandbox, which combines education, arts and crafts, and computers to produce a secret army of glitter robots.
Comprised of two championship-length 18-hole courses and a 9-hole executive layout, Silver Lake Country Club unfurls across rolling terrain dotted with ponds and streams. The longest of the three courses, the North Course offers relatively open fairways for those who prefer to belt the ball with their driver or tow a small aircraft behind their golf cart. At the South Course, water hazards loom on 12 holes, including the treacherous par-3 ninth hole, where tee shots must travel 236 yards and clear a pond in order to reach the green in one.
The Rolling Hills Course presents seven par-3s and two par-4s in a 1,587-yard layout that incorporates a stream that intervenes through most of the course. Before taking on the golf course of their choice, golfers can warm up swings and teach breathing exercises to nervous irons at the driving range, which offers both natural-grass and turf hitting stalls and a short-game practice area.
Pump It Up's two indoor inflatable arenas bounce socked striplings high off the ground with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Trained, amiable staffers supervise fun-filled visits where parents can leap around with their kids through gargantuan, air-filled bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an air-filled obstacle course. Attendees can also focus their free play for special events, such as custom birthday parties and themed, private team parties. These themed soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. Both giant arenas are climate controlled and maintained according to rigorous guidelines enforced by the well-trained staff and local police. Supplementing its thorough rule enforcement with expert installation and anchoring, Pump It Up holds itself to strict safety standards.