Tarantella Ristorante sends gourmet gondolas full of authentic cuisine representing all regions of Italy sailing into rumbling belly canals. The creamy bow-tie pasta of farfalle piemontese graces naked collars with tasty evening wear (lunch $9.95, dinner $13.95), and the lunch-specialty flattened chicken-parmigiana panini comes with a fresh garnish salad ($9.95). Crispy thin-crust pizzas ($10.95–$14.95), such as the mozzarella and mushroom covered funghi ($10.95), please the palates of dinner diners and double as makeshift manhole covers.
Michael Gordon and Vaughan Lazar wanted to make an impression without leaving behind an imprint. Noticing an apparent lack of casual organically inclined restaurants, the duo decided to create an eco-friendly eatery that featured familiar pizzeria staples with a socially responsible twist. Each pizza begins as a disc of freshly kneaded dough made with organic grains and flour and a layer of zesty sauce that contains an also-organic blend of vine-ripened tomatoes, herbs, and spices. The chefs also source ingredients from local producers to populate a menu of two dozen topping options, including free-range chicken, portobello mushrooms, and soy mozzarella. Along with these pizzas, they create sandwiches and salads that appeal to vegan and gluten-free diets.
In addition to working almost exclusively with suppliers and producers that value environmental sustainability, Pizza Fusion adheres to eco-conscious practices at each of its locations. The staff recycles every pizza box it can and serves food in cornstarch-based containers that biodegrade in as little as 50 days. Even the buildings minimize their environmental impact by recycling heat from the ovens and using it to warm the restaurants and prevent snowman infestations.
Pies slathered in homemade sauce bake to a crisp, golden finish over hot embers inside ovens at Giovanni's Coal Fire Pizza. 15 homemade Italian dinners, authentic pastas, chicken dishes, sandwiches, and salads top tables inside both locations, which each sport exposed-brick walls and a bevy of flat-screen televisions.
Jimmy Jax sports saucy and savory lunch and dinner menus that boast a boney bounty of baby-back ribs from the award-winning ribsperts at Michelbob’s ($9.99 half rack, $14.99 full rack), alongside other sauceable, sliceable palate pleasers. Chomp down on a Chicago-style thin-crust or new deep dish pizza loaded with cheeses imported from Italy and Wisconsin ($7.99–$14.99 for thin-crust or $10.99–$18.99 for deep dish) and covered with your choice of tasty toppings ($1.49 each), ranging from Italian sausage and Genoa salami to ethnically ambiguous tomatoes, green peppers, and anchovies. Lunch and dinner plates include comforting mouthfuls of smoked barbecue pulled pork ($7.99) and melt-iculously viscid five-cheese macaroni ($7.99 dinner), and suppertime combos ($11.99) pair the restaurant's signature rib-sticking rib racks with one of six other signature tastes (served with a garlic knot and choice of three sides).
Although best known for its hand-tossed pizzas made from dough baked fresh daily, Esposito's Pizza complements its marinara-doused mandalas with a delectable array of Italianate appetizers and entrees. The Four Seasons pizza (14", $17.49) arranges a baroque quartet of artichoke, mushrooms, ham, and onion atop a stage of cheese, and the meat-combo pizza (14", $17.49) packs in enough animal flesh to legally be considered livestock. Otherwise, put an artist's signature on your own pizza ($8+) by pairing pepperoni, spinach, and mushrooms with more adventurous flavors such as pineapple, jalapeños, and moon rock. Esposito's accommodates boot-shaped appetites as well as circular ones with the Taste of Italy's tour of chicken-cutlet parmigiana, meatballs, and baked ziti ($15.95).
Owner Jeff Cohen can still be found manning The Pizza Loft’s line more than 30 years after its inception, dishing up a menu of made-to-order Italian cuisine in an ultramodern kitchen wholly devoid of deep fryers and microwaves. Crafted by hand and topped with a robust homemade tomato sauce, the Loft’s piping panoply of pizzas is doughy shores bedecked with 100% real dairy mozzarella, fresh veggies, and hearty servings of sliced meatballs, ham, and sausage ($10.95+). Diners can scale the lasagna’s precarious layers, fixing pickaxes into its meat-packed peaks while scooping up the aromatic avalanche of a rich mushroom sauce ($11.95+). Plates of eggplant parmigiana, like Italy's organically grown supermodels, tastefully swathe themselves in stylish shrouds of spaghetti noodles ($13.95), and penne pasta dishes come sautéed-to-order in fragrant lochs of garlic butter or alfredo sauce ($9.95+).