Not a lot of ideas dreamed up on a first date come to fruition. But for Daniela and Brad, their first date in a Sao Paulo pizzeria grew into more than just a romance. With every successive date, their wouldn't-it-be-nice dream of opening a Brazilian-style pizzeria grew too shape. Not too long after, they decided to use the recipes handed down from their Italian ancestors to create their pizzeria, Fogo 2 Go.
In their cozy store-front—taken up by a main counter and an enormous brick oven—they bake crispy, Italian pizzas paired with unique Brazilian influences. Their pies come layered with everything from classic Italian sausages to more unique brie margherita and shrimp scampi toppings. True to the idea's Brazilian roots, they also cook up treats such as coxinha—an empanada filled with seasoned chicken and mashed potatoes—as well as desserts such as flan and Nutella & Banana pizza.
Aside from the Brazilian-Italian comestibles, Fogo's crown jewel is the brick-fired, charbroiled whole, half, or quarter chicken. Thanks to the intensity of the oven's heat and the incantations of the bistro's house shaman, the chicken quick-cooks, leaving a bacon-crisp skin and sealing in juices. What they never decided in their dream was the type of beverages to serve, so the pair let customers make that choice themselves with their BYOB policy. Fogo 2 Go even satisfies late-night hungers by staying open until 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Inspired by the traditional eateries of southern Brazil, Al Primo Canto serves rotisserie-roasted meats and eats in a warm, inviting setting. Opt for a family-style meal of multiple courses ($30 per person), or select from an à la carte menu. Preheat your appetite with a classic Brazilian palate-tickler such as caponatto de beringela, a dish of roasted eggplant with tahini paste ($6). Then, move to a main course of veggie-friendly pasta such as homemade gnocchi caprese with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella ($13) or slow-roasted, mouth-watering meats made in Al Primo Canto's brick-lined charcoal rotisserie, a Brazilian import. Entrees from this alchemical producer of food-gold include the restaurant's signature galeto al primo canto, a young chicken marinated in white wine, fresh garlic, and sage, rotisserie-roasted over natural wood charcoal ($16). Silence any last hunger pangs with desserts such as the Romeo e Julieta, a tragically tasty warm guava cake with vanilla mascarpone sauce ($5).
Texas de Brazil blends the steak-centric cuisine of Texas with the traditional churrasco method of slow-roasting meat over an open flame grill to form a luscious meaty mélange. The full dinner ($39.99) marches out a cavalcade of choice cuts, allowing diners to welcome continuous windfalls of flavorful proteins. Brandish your table's provided card, green on one side, red on the other, and it will function as a meat traffic light that summons servers to either send stacks of seasoned beef, pork, or lamb skewers or halt plate traffic like a decorated culinary crossing guard. Or feel free to substitute greens for the grill by stepping into the sprawling salad-bar conga line ($24.99), two-stepping through toothsome goodies such as imported cheeses, steamed asparagus, and dozens of other hors d'oeuvres.
Rather than stay cooped up the kitchen, Brazzaz's gaucho chefs make forays into the dining area to carve portions of their 18 churrascaria-style, fire-roasted meats for guests. As customers lounge beneath geometric pendant lamps, they can take their pick of Brazilian bites, from succulent slices of tenderloin medallions wrapped in bacon to whole legs of lamb marinated in a secret blend of ingredients. In addition to devouring the all-you-can-eat meats, diners can pair their entrees with selections from the gourmet salad and sides bar, which stocks more than 60 items of seafood, imported cheese, cured meat, and fresh-cut vegetables. After dinner, sweet teeth sink into freshly crafted desserts, which run the gamut from Brazilian flan to chocolate mousse topped with homemade whipped cream. Throughout each feast, bartenders help wash down bites by whipping up cocktails or pouring selections from a sommelier-selected, 150-item wine list, which focuses on vineyards in the Americas from California to the Little California districts in major cities.
If Wyatt Earp suddenly found himself in modern-day La Grange, Illinois, he'd likely feel right at home at Al's Char-House. The well-known, Wild-West themed steakhouse that is approaching its 20-year anniversary, presents diners with all the comforts of a home on the range, starting with the wood-trimmed dining room, where walls display cowboy memorabilia ranging from old photographs to cattle skulls. The menu takes inspiration from the old west too, featuring steaks that can range in size from 8 to 56 ounces. Of course, if steaming, lightly charred slabs of filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, and charhouse sirloin don't make your mouth water, Al's also specializes in seafood such as grilled and bourbon-glazed Atlantic salmon, or shrimp served char-grilled with garlic or battered and deep-fried. The vintage-inspired restaurant boasts plenty of modern amenities as well—a large projection TV screens live sporting events near the bar and the crackling fireplace.
Using all-natural meats, Amish free-range chicken, and produce from Midwestern farmers’ markets, Hemmingway's Bistro serves fresh, flavorful French fare in an attractive, white-tablecloth-laden dining room. Executive Chef Ala's fondness for melt-on-your-tongue seafood makes its mark on the menu—the restaurant imports fish from the East Coast daily. Satiate seafood cravings with the herb-crusted whitefish paired with caper butter ($18.95), or guzzle away at the Dijon salmon with a side of cream lentils ($21.95). The Classic ($36.95) stuffs grumbling stomachs with half a lobster, nine oysters, three shrimp, three clams, six mussels, and two crabs. Before the main course, showcase your magic skills by cutting the baked brie topped with apricot preserves ($11.95) in half with your saw-teeth. Vegetarians can fork in warm goat-cheese petite salad ($7.95) while carnivores sink their teeth into the roasted lamb rack paired with ratatouille ($26.95). Cleanse your esophagus with a glass of '99 Saint Clement syrah ($9 for a glass) or an '06 Campanile pinot grigio ($7 for a glass) from Hemmingway's stockpile of red and white wines.