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.
Swim in a tangy, saucy consortium of fall-off-the-bone ribs ($13.79 half slab, $19.99 full slab) served with fries, slaw, and a roll, or speak softly and carry six mozzarella sticks, 15 mini corn dogs, and beer nuggets by ordering the appetizer platter ($9.99). The pizza––with a signature recipe that dates back to 1967 (or 1709 in dog years)––is served with thin crust, in the pan, or stuffed. Perry's also has a vast array of pastas, sandwiches, salads, holiday wishes, wraps, and more. Along with daily-deal specials, patrons can bask in the never-ending ambience of the pizza and salad bar ($6.99) or the pizza and salad plus Italian favorites ($8.99), which are available three to five days a week. For bulk orders, check out the catering menu options for specific prices. This Groupon is valid for the pizza, salad, and Italian buffets.
Home cooking can be hard to find when home is on an entirely different continent. But the owners of Himalayan Restaurant knew how to bring the flavors of their South Asian home to Chicago. They sought out Chef Bishnu Subedi, who relies on his 12 years of experience as well as his training in a Kathmandu culinary school. Befitting the subcontinent’s rich and diverse history, Chef Subedi designs expansive menus, which embrace the Northern Indian, Nepalese, and Asian subcultures that define the region’s cuisines.
This cultural fusion is readily apparent in dishes such as the momos: steamed Nepalese-style dumplings that are typically stuffed with minced chicken or vegetables and served by street-food vendors throughout Nepal. Northern Indian flavors completely shine through on certain dishes, including the tandoori chicken, which marinates overnight in spiced yogurt before the chefs quickly barbecue the meat inside a traditional clay tandoor oven. House-made paneer cheese and fluffy naan also evoke the flavors of South Asia; the restaurant further embraces its cultural roots by serving Indian beers and water from melted Nepalese glaciers.
A chorus of electronic beeps sings across Kiddie Kingdom's 13,000 square feet, where more than 62 arcade games, redemption games, and small rides galvanize youthful excitement in both kids and adults. After stuffing their pockets with tokens, guests compete for high scores on modern video games and arcade classics, such as air hockey and skee-ball. These redemption-style games shower the most successful players in tickets, which can be exchanged at the King's Treasure Chest counter for small toys, stuffed animals, and sports balls.
Elsewhere, the aroma of housemade lasagna, chicken wings, and pizza tempts players away from the arcade and into the onsite Pizza King restaurant. Here, cooks hand toss dough for thin-crust, deep-dish, and stuffed pies. The Italian cuisine also delights guests in a 100-person party room, where birthday boys and girls open presents and spin a wheel to win enough tickets to send their stuffed animals to college.
At CiCi’s Pizza, patrons wander along a buffet brimming with fresh-baked pizzas, hearty pasta, crisp salads, and warm desserts. Dough spinners whip up pizza crusts from scratch every day, slathering them with vine-ripened tomato sauce or zesty white sauce before sprinkling on a coat of whole-milk mozzarella—the perfect trap for unsuspecting toppings such as ham, pineapple, Italian sausage, spinach alfredo, and macaroni and cheese. All of CiCi's offerings are free of trans fat and sad flour, including sweets such as brownies, apple pizza, and cinnamon rolls. Although pricing varies by location, many franchises offer the buffet for less than $6 per person, while inviting guests ages 2 or younger nosh for free. The pizzeria spices up its edible good works by launching community-oriented programs that range from fundraiser nights to lunch-and-learn field trips for students.