In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn?t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, ?Put pizza in it.?
Though the rest is history, it wasn?t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn?t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
Today, Gino?s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae?s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings?from sausage and pepperoni to jalape?os and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don?t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.
Mago, which is Spanish for magician, owner chef Juan Luis Gonzalez to crafts authentic Latin and Mexican dishes that ?dazzle? diners, according to the Daily Herald. The menu surveys both traditional and modern dishes, including ceviche, empanadas stuffed with seasoned meats, and complex moles. Beyond the main dishes, the chef experiments with sucrose in desserts such as warm mexican spiced bread pudding, as well as a cantina menu highlighted by margaritas, mezcals, and over 250 premium 100% Agave tequilas.
From within Ding Dong Dang’s variously sized private rooms, drifts the sounds of singers living out vocal dreams previously unleashed exclusively in the safety of the car or shower. As crooners belt out popular songs or fill in forgotten lyrics with their social security numbers, the bar concocts drinks to lubricate parched windpipes, drawing heavily upon the dulcet notes of a Korean liquor called soju. Against the soundtrack of newly proud singing and clinking glasses, dishes clatter against tables, laden with Asian options including breaded pork donkatsu, crisp popcorn chicken, and pingsu, a dessert that combines red beans, fruit, and ice.
Everybody has personal drink specifications?a little more whiskey here, a little less beer there. That's why seven booths at House of Music Entertainment are outfitted with table taps, where diners pour their own brews and spirits. Of course, guests can defer pouring duties to bartenders, who supply drafts, bottles, and cans from an extensive beer selection that includes microbrews, such as Founders alongside beloved classics.
The libations complement House of Music Entertainment's version of American bar food, which includes unorthodox options such as chimichangas filled with Philly cheesesteak or chicken cordon bleu fixings. For night owls, a late-night menu serves bar staples, such as fried zucchini and jalapeno poppers, from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.
Those late night snacks keep patrons nourished as they watch the latest football matches, baseball games, and referee hugging competitions on the bar's 80 plasma televisions. Inside House of Music Entertainment's 15,000-square-foot theater, concertgoers take in a show by musicians such as Naughty by Nature and Carly Rae Jepsen, both of which recently graced the 28-by-30-foot stage. They've built up an extensive media gallery inclusive of not only national acts but also the local bands and DJs their theater showcases. During the summer season, patrons can also enjoy the al fresco scene on the bar's patio.
A neighborhood bar is best when it reflects the local culture, which is why it’s no surprise that Harrys’ of Arlington pours brews from a variety of local craft breweries such as Revolution, 5 Rabbit, and Goose Island. A long wooden bar that stretches nearly the length of the room features a dozen tap handles in regimented rows above its polished surface. Those taps spout both macro- and microbrewed beers, which can be obtained on specials that run every day of the week. Cooks complement these libations with an extensive menu of pub grub, including customizable sirloin-patty burgers, sandwiches, and a variety of mac and cheeses spiced up with enticing ingredients.
Occasionally, the staff clears the rows of tables and hooks up their sound and light systems to host concerts. For these convivial events, they invite musicians who run the gamut of musical styles, from rock and blues to funk and tribute bands, who play music in lieu of paying taxes.