Since 1968, running D'Agostinos has been a family affair, like eating Thanksgiving dinner, or getting mad about Scrabble. First opened by Joe and Jan D'Agostino, the Wrigleyville corner pizzeria has grown to include three additional locations across Chicago, each of which is run by a member of the D'Agostino clan. Metromix sums up the appeal, comparing the restaurant to "an intimate Italian spot in a movie" complete with "snuggling couples, heaping servings of homemade pasta, [and] red-checked tablecloths." It’s in this setting that diners dig into specialty thin crust and deep dish pies scattered with fresh mushrooms, giardiniera, meatballs, eight types of cheese, and other toppings.
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.
Wally's slings plates of handheld and fork-friendly classics alongside some unfamiliar twists on standard diner fare. The homemade italian beef swaddles seasoned roast beef with either hot or sweet peppers inside two halves of hearty french bread ($5.49+) and the Angus-certified, quarter-pound patty of the charbroiled hamburger adorns a bakery-oven bun before disappearing under a mélange of onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and condiments ($2.69+). The specialty gyros plate fills hot pita bread with slices of gyro garnished with sauce, fresh tomato, and raw onion ($8.49), offering a choice of potato, rice, or barbershop quartet as a side. A supporting cast of sides also dances down the line, with accompaniments such as Wally's spicy fries ($2.25–$3.25), hot ’n’ spicy buffalo wings ($3.95–$10.65), and sweet summertime milkshakes ($3.25) that make unseasonable snowmen melt with glee.
Everything about Eggsperience Pancakes & Cafe is bright, warm, and sunny. Natural light floods the restaurant's eight locations, which sprinkle across Chicago and its suburbs like powdered sugar over a slice of french toast. Orange and yellow walls surround every dining room, and some locations have fireplaces, which make ideal places to sip Ghirardelli hot chocolate or espresso beverages. Even the food is colorful. Fresh fruits?either in solid or juice form?complement dishes such as the Mediterranean omelette, baked in the French style and filled with a vibrant medley of spinach, tomatoes, olives, and imported feta cheese.
Those omelettes, like what most of what comes from Eggsperience's kitchen, start with grade-AA, farm-fresh eggs. The chefs work magic with those eggs, whipping them into frittatas and poaching them for five different "Eggsquisite Benedicts." They also use them to create their signature pancake batter, but in this case, eggs are only the beginning. Strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits mix into the pancakes.
The creativity shown with those pancakes and egg dishes extends to dozens of other breakfast items, and diners could spend countless mornings at Eggsperience without boring their taste buds. The chefs don't stop at breakfast, either. They simply transition to lunch, when they grill Cajun avocado burgers and pair gourmet chicken-salad sandwiches with a soup of the day.
Preparing tea, particularly loose-leaf varietals, is an art far more complex than pouring a cup of hot water. It's also an art that the staff at TeaLula practice daily, in hopes of teaching visitors about the age-old beverage. Inside their quaint boutique, they've gathered teas from gardens around the world, picking out seasonal favorites as well as soothing standbys. Guests can sample different flavors from China, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Taiwan simply by grabbing a seat at the tasting bar. For those who want to learn more about brewing recipes and different types of tea, the shop hosts classes led by Sheila Duda, a certified tea specialist.
The stuffed pizza. It's a marvel of taste engineering that has swept through pizzerias nationwide, but only one city can claim the original overloaded pie. Picture it: Chicago, 1971. Italian immigrants Nancy and Rocco Palese, owners of Guy's Pizza, begin experimenting with recipes beyond their traditional thin crust. In his quest to innovate, Rocco remembers the family recipe for scarciedda, an Easter specialty cake perfected by his own mother. With a few tweaks, he turns that homeland favorite into the stuffed pizza?now a staple among the pizza industry.
By 1974, the Paleses expanded their empire to include Nancy's Pizza, which still serves Rocco's signature pie today. Nancy's Pizza now reaches far beyond its original Chicagoland borders, all the way to Atlanta and California, with plans to expand further. Diners across the country can sink their teeth into the shop's signature pies. When they do, they'll taste the wholesome dough and savory toppings that have earned best pizza accolades from publications ranging from the Chicago Tribune to Pizza Magazine.