In 1963, Sal Barbiere founded his eponymous Italian Inn on the principles of “Family, Superb Food, and Quality Ingredients,” according to the restaurant's website. So it was no surprise that he decided to keep the eatery in the family, passing Barbiere's to his son Steve when he retired. And when, 34 years later, Steve was ready to retire in his turn, he also passed the mantle to someone trustworthy: employee Mark Dempsey, who is himself nearly family—he has been working at the restaurant since he was 16 years old.
Today, Dempsey has expanded the restaurant to two locations, both still serving Sal's signature garlic bread and other tried-and-true Italian dishes. Chefs in his kitchens prepare pans of lasagna and spaghetti with meat or meatless sauce. Baked-to-order pizzas feature an array of topping choices including italian sausage, fresh mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes. Grand Marnier from the full bar fortifies pitchers of housemade red sangria, which enhance the food's bold, Italian flavors as well as boring white napkins that definitely look better in tie-dye.
You'll never find canned tomatoes or a pre-made pizza crust in the kitchen at Valentina's Pizzeria, where the staff prides itself on the ingredients it makes in-house every day, from the freshly grated cheese to the sauce mixed with herbs straight from the garden. Owner Greg Steele oversees the crafting of a menu filled with a selection of pizzas, calzones, and subs as well as sides such as eggplant fries and cheese bread.
Chandeliers and linen-clad tables lend a bit of glitz to the warm, welcoming Old Town Serbian Gourmet Restaurant. The menu that gets passed out in that friendly atmosphere features flavorful homestyle Serbian cuisine that unites the Midwest with the Old World, promising a smorgasbord of traditional Serbian stews, dumplings, pilafs, and cutlet entrees crafted from locally farmed produce. The spread ranges from multi-course feasts of chevapchichi and wholesome meals of fresh fish or stuffed cabbage. That diverse selection allows the menu to captivate the palate with dishes that are simultaneously exotic and familiar, similar to having George Clooney move in above the garage.
The oven at Alphonso's the Original ejects pies of freshly kneaded dough slathered in scratch-made sauce and gooey Wisconsin cheese. Owners Tim and Corey inherited their century-old recipe as well as a treasure map to a chest of golden pepperoni passed down from the restaurant's namesake, Alphonso. Pies bear loads of juicy Chicago sausages alongside a medley of veggies, sandwiches hug hand-pressed italian sausage, and salads shimmy under a hail of homemade croutons.
At Loucci's NY Pizza, chefs bake the eatery's titular pie in the classic New York style, a thin, toothsome, bubbly crust loaded with savory sauce, cheese, and toppings. Guests sink their teeth into slices of pizza covered in feta cheese, veggies, or italian sausage, or dig in to hearty spaghetti dinners, baked lasagna, or Greek gyros.
Since 1981, the ovens of Michaelangelo's Pizza have produced piping-hot pizzas piled with a variety of toppings. Sausage, pepperoni, olives, and pineapple arrive on delectable thin crusts. Meanwhile, pasta sauces coat lasagna, spaghetti, and ravioli. Steak sandwiches, hamburgers, and meatball sandwiches pair well with beers such as Peroni, Heineken, and Miller.