Al Ferreri, his sister Frances, and his brother-in-law Chris Pacelli Sr., developed their signature italian-beef sandwich out of necessity in 1938. The economic depression made meat harder to come by, so the trio of sandwich makers made their supplies last by cutting thinner slices of roast beef.
Their business started with them feeding guests at family weddings, delivering meals to local hospitals, and catering the country's first food fight, but they soon founded a more permanent curbside food stand in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood. Despite their relatively humble beginnings, Al's Beef & Nancy's Pizza rapidly expanded and now boasts franchises throughout the Chicago area and across the country. The family business has garnered plentiful acclaim throughout the years, having been named Adam Richman's best sandwich in the Midwest on the Travel Channel show Best Sandwich in America in June 2012, appearing on Richman's Man v. Food and earning a place on Esquire's list of The Best Sandwiches in America in 2008.
The cooks begin every morning by roasting cuts of beef for the day, kneading fresh pizza dough, and cutting french fries with an industrial-strength laser pointer. The hearty italian-beef sandwiches can emerge from the kitchen with simple, unadorned meat or with blankets of melted cheese and spicy housemade giardiniera. The pizzas range from crispy thin-crust disks to deep-dish pies with 2.5-inch-thick crusts, supporting any combination of the 24 available toppings, which include oven-roasted garlic, baby spinach, and bacon.
Maki Sushi & Noodle Shop earned city-worthy praise in both the Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune for the elegant simplicity that characterizes both its menu and décor. Japanese letters run down the floor-to-ceiling murals that color the bright eatery’s mint-green walls, flanking a sushi bar centerpiece where more than 20 seats rest courtside as master chefs prepare soft shell crab, homemade dumplings, and crispy rangoons. They also churn out fresh sashimi and dozens of signature maki rolls including Crazy Crunch filled with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and tempura crunch topped with wasabi mayo and unagi sauce. The clean lines of the eatery’s exposed brick pillars and polished wood-grain floors spill over into lunchtime bento boxes, which compartmentalize protein such as crabmeat fried rice or chicken katsu. Delicate flutes of martini glasses filled with fruit-infused takes on the classic cocktail. Equipped with a glass-enclosed wine cellar, Maki Sushi’s lower level lounge plays host to private get-togethers, corporate happy hours, and very short games of hide-and-seek.
If customers arrive at Mrs. A Cupcakes @ The Pickwick at the right time, they may meet the owner?s 5-year-old grandson, who greets them with a hello and an eager recitation of his favorite cupcakes. Mrs. A runs her namesake bakery along with her two youngest daughters, making it a true family-operated business. Each morning, they arrive bright and early to bake the day?s goods from scratch using fresh ingredients.
Although the bakers also make cookies and donuts, cupcakes are their specialty. Varieties change daily based on seasonal and available ingredients, such as the apple- pies and pumpkin- cream- cheese cupcakes they whip up in the fall. One mainstay, the red- velvet cupcake, is crafted using traditional Depression-era techniques, adding a smidge of cocoa to the batter and shredded stock certificates to the frosting. Other offerings echo the family?s Filipino heritage, such as the ube cupcake, made from purple yam, and the made-to-order buko- pandan cupcake, created from coconut meat, condensed milk, and the fragrant extract of pandan leaves.
Inside a cheerful café marked with a striped awning, chefs dote on hot pans that cradle delicate French crepes destined to encapsulate sweet or savory fillings. Cream of the Crêpe's batter whisperers take pride in the smallest details of their crepes, demanding that each flaunts a flaky texture, toothsome filling, and crisply ironed handkerchief. Crepe masters fill the edible envelopes with eggs and cheese during breakfast, grilled meat and crisp vegetables during lunch, and fresh fruits or decadent spreads during sweet-tooth attacks. Artful baristas grind Lavazza coffee beans to brew into drip coffees or strong espressos topped with scoops of frothy milk. Between customers, servers wipe the granite counter and set vases bursting with flowers on every table, where the blooms soak up light reflecting off the café's sunny yellow walls.
Since opening its doors in 1998, Language Stars has introduced more than 30,000 children to foreign languages with small-group classes and full-immersion activities. Through a selective process, Language Stars recruits ambitious teachers from more than 20 countries who share a common goal of revolutionizing how and when American children learn foreign languages. Parents and Tots Classes are available for children between 1–3 years old, and Kids Only classes are available for children 3–5, 5–8 and 8–10 years old. Absorbent little minds soak up Spanish, Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic with the help of their FunImmersion approach, learning naturally through games, songs, activities and art projects to help kids finally understand their foreign-exchange imaginary friends.
Flower murals and rose-colored walls draw guests into The Pink Nail & Spa like honeybees into a garden; cushy leather seats await them, as inviting as lush flowers. Guests plop comfortably into the chairs during manicures, pedicures, and waxing services. Creative Spa manicures and pedicures condition skin with elixirs infused with citrus oils, antioxidants, and vitamin E. Nail technicians also pamper the hands and feet with relaxing soaks and moisturizing treatments. During regular spa mani-pedis, the techs knead palms and soles and slough off expired skin with gentle exfoliation tools. Clients can also opt to pamper their whole bodies with more than a half-dozen types of massage therapy, including Swedish and deep-tissue treatments that melt pain, tension, and subcutaneous cheddar wheels.