At Jullianni's, friendly staffers rush mozzarella-strewn pizzas, wings, and nachos to each table and booth in their open dining room, which is furnished with a high ceiling and sleek wood accents. Diners can also sate cravings for subs or idiosyncratic flavors such as crab cakes with banana-pepper tartar.
Sam Buca's is part fine-dining oasis of upscale Southern Italian cuisine and part laid-back sports bar serving casually delicious eats. Pull up a chair at a white-clothed table and open the menu of pasta, seafood, and meat dishes as hearty as a tugboat captain's laugh. Lemon chicken ($14), boneless breasts sautéed in a white wine and lemon butter sauce, lets savory poultry flavors dance on palates, while tilapia Italiano ($16), swimming with green onions and diced tomatoes in a white wine sauce, imbues taste buds with aquatic delight. Sam Buca's cannoli ($4) is homemade. Those who prefer the warm glow of TV screens reflected in their beer mug can head to the restaurant's bar and pick up the menu of more casual fare such as sandwiches ($5-$9), pizza ($10-$11), and wings ($8).
For more than 30 years, Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage has served up a Chicago-centric menu of beef sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs. Silence empty-belly rumblings with one of Pop's delectable beef sandwiches ($4.19–$6.35), such as the italian beef, heaped with mounds of succulent, thin-sliced beef soaked in special spices and natural gravy. Windy-city visitors can delight in the classic Chicago hot dog and the savory polish sausage (each around $2.29–$2.99, depending on location), each nestled underneath mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and the looming shadow of oscillating skyscrapers. Other handheld fare includes the meatball and corned-beef sandwiches, which can be upgraded with a variety of extras, including red sauce, sweet peppers, hot mix (all free on sandwiches, extra as a side), feta cheese, and bacon. A fleet of made-from-scratch soups and salads is also available, and includes such options as the hearty cream-of-chicken rice soup and the large garden salad ($2.09–$3.99).
2 Goomba’s Italian Ristorante is an eatery that draws on generations of family recipes for its menu. Pastas here are housemade, and pizzas come topped with fresh ingredients, imported meats, and a blend of freshly grated cheeses. If you’re dining in, take advantage of the restaurant’s BYOB status and bring a bottle of wine, a six pack of beer, or a pail of milk.
Bertucci’s Restaurant & Lounge evokes a wilderness retreat with log-cabin-style walls, hardwood floors, and a central fireplace on a bed of stone. Exposed rafters teem with greenery and the rising steam of chicken and veal in authentic Italian preparations, in dynamic sauces such as lemon wine and marsala. The open space mingles cozy ambiance with more than enough space for catered banquets that serve up to 100 people. Seafood fillets such as salmon and halibut insulate pasta draped with garlic, olive oil, and marinara. Patrons can venture outside to sip wine or an espresso drink amid the sprawling verandas of Bertucci’s open-air patio, where a fountain stands in a pool of water and falcons swoop down to snag unattended cannoli.