Voted Chicagoland's best pizza by 670 The Score and awarded as the 2011 winner for best beer garden by the Southland Star, Durbin’s rewards watering mouths with a roster of gratifying pub fare, a full bar, and an idyllic outdoor beer garden at every location. Durbin's menus vary slightly between locations, united by an emphasis on meaty sandwiches, comforting fried nosh, pizza, and trademarked ribs. Prime appetites with a Durbin’s Combo—mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, potato skins, and onion rings ($8.50)—or the Kelly Special's mozzarella-topped butterflied filet mignon on toasted garlic bread ($10.95). Durbin's slow-smokes its signature Branding Iron ribs over an open pit of smoldering hickory wood, basting them with secret-recipe barbecue sauce and whispering sweet, flaming nothings to them to tenderize the meat ($11.95 for a half slab, $18.95 for a full slab). The 14-inch stuffed sausage pizza’s layers of meat and cheese are trapped between its saucy crust, forming a delicate closed ecosystem of Italian flavor ($17.95).
Flashing lights pulsate to thumping beats as smoke rises from a DJ booth framed by projection screens and swaying bodies. Though it may seem like a scene out of a movie, this energetic setting actually takes place seven nights a week at Bobby McGee's. And to keep their lively parties grooving until the wee hours, the South Side staple curates festive party themes, such as a Black Out Fridays and the occasional Hawaiian luau, which boasts an inflatable surfing game and real-life boars wandering through the crowd. Weekend concerts enliven the already convivial mood, as do bag tournaments, live band karaoke, and charity events to support causes such as cancer research.
When not catering to the party crowd, Bobby McGee's transforms the spacious dance area into bar room filled with stools and tables. Diners can dig into half-pound burgers and specialty pizzas topped with buffalo shrimp, and those craving a south-of-the-border meal can turn to the menu's Tex-Mex dishes of buffalo chicken quesadillas and beef nachos. These bar eats can be paired with weekly drink specials, from Old Style beer to shots, or the bar's signature 32-ounce long island drink served in a mason jar.
For more than 22 years, the scent of freshly baking pizza has drifted out the door of Kenootz Pizza. Chefs fill their ovens with both thin-crust and deep-dish pies, sprinkling in more than a dozen toppings such as bacon, all-beef pepperoni, and spinach. To complement the flavors of their pizzas, chefs cook up classic Italian sides such as cheese-laden garlic bread, zucchini sticks, and fried mushrooms, as well as more substantial platters of meat ravioli and spaghetti. With a delivery area that covers most of the surrounding neighborhoods, the restaurant can stock groups with a tasty, sharable meal without them having to leave the house or cut a cheeseburger into eight equal parts.
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.
Caprio’s Pizza has dedicated more than a decade to serving a menu of casual Italian fare, seafood, and signature thin-crust pies. Dining companions can divvy up palate-priming starters such as cheddar-stuffed jalapeno poppers, or salute a dozen dough nuggets extracted from Italy's rich pizza mines. Pepper the cheese base of a 15-inch sauce circle with the topping of your choice, choosing from a veritable cornucopia of fresh ingredients, including canadian bacon, giardiniera, and pineapple. Two-liter sodas irrigate arid noshers, who may also opt for carryout, enjoying their meal in the comfort of their own home, office, or abandoned grain silo.
The Original Papa Joe’s Italian Restaurant’s menu advertises a bevy of fresh pastas and classic Italian entrees featuring marsala and lemon butter sauces, zesty marinara, tenderly cooked chicken, beef medallions, and milk-fed Provimi veal. Thin- and deep-crust pizzas can be decorated with a combination of a dozen fresh toppings, and savory meatball sandwiches vie with house-made lasagna for the chance to kiss taste buds. A roster of 20 wines and a dozen different beers helps patrons wash down generous forkfuls of chicken parmigiana, manicotti, and calamari.