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).
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.
Brazilian-born chef Jorgina Pereira relies on ingredients such as cassava root, collards, and coconut to infuse stews and stir-fries with tropical flavors at Sinhá. Pereira prepares her homeland's cuisine at home, welcoming guests into her historic brick townhouse for intimate meals, morning to mid-afternoon. In addition to doling out tropical comestibles at its brick-and-mortar location, the staff takes a custom catering menu on the road with Brazilian musicians, dressing for events in a Carmen Miranda-like uniform of flowing dresses and fruit-filled head dresses. Sinhá is a local favorite, and was even featured on ABC 7 Chicago News in a restaurant segment.
The lengua burritos, Jarritos, and red and green sauces that smother enchiladas aren't the only authentic south-of-the-border touches at Changarro Cocina. Its drink list also brings some traditional flavor. The granite bar area, part of the new owner's renovations, hosts more than 70 different tequilas and margaritas made fresh without any mixers. Patrons sip these beverages while nibbling ceviche, huaraches, and tortas and cheering on soccer matches, baseball games, and ice-fishing tournaments broadcast on TVs throughout the restaurant.
A chic escape in the heart of downtown Evanston, Todoroki Hibachi + Sushi is a welcomed getaway from the usual sea of purple sweatshirts and Wildcat gear found on Davis Street. Sleek, sand-colored booths built into textured-stone walls trace the perimeter, right across from classic black tables set for two. Dim spotlights shine romantic light from overhead, illuminating platefuls of hibachi-grilled seafood, steak, and vegetables, or the chef’s selection of fresh sushi including nearly 20 signature rolls. White, red, and sparkling wine accompany meals, and japanese beers and sake help patrons pretend they’re in Japan or a movie that takes place in Japan.
The Elliott family has specialized in creating sumptuous seafood, juicy chops, and pillowy piles of pasta since 1939. Elliott's Seafood Grille & Chop House's stately menu takes tonsils on a tour of succulence with the New York strip, 14 ounces of prime protein, aged a minimum of 21 days to ensure your fork can finally act like a knife for once in its life ($28.95). Elliott's will add horseradish, garlic, peppercorn, or blue cheese to any steak or chop for an additional $2 with a signed waiver promising you will use a breath mint. Appetites indulge in the aquatic awesomeness of stuffed Atlantic salmon, with roasted red peppers, portobello mushrooms, ricotta, and romano cheese, baked in white wine ($19.95). Patrons needling for noodles can try the farfalle with pine nuts and pesto ($11.95) or the penne di lucca, a splendid blend of sausage, spinach, sweet roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and the ability to smell time ($15.95).
Lovell's of Lake Forest is co-owned by James Lovell, the NASA astronaut best remembered as the commander of the Apollo 13 space flight, and second-best remembered for playing Tom Hanks in the 1995 film, Apollo 13. Lovell's son, Jay Lovell, as co-owner and executive chef, oversees Lovell's of Lake Forest's dinner menu of steaks, seafood, sandwiches, and more. Commence consumption sequences with the fried calamari ($14) or its briny brethren, scallops ($15), before sinking fork and fang into Lovell's of Lake Forest's slate of steaks and chops. The 8-oz. filet mignon ($31) can come bacon-wrapped with cognac-veal reduction ($33), rock-crab-accompanied with asparagus and hollandaise ($37), or in other variations, while the 14-oz. Australian rack of lamb ($36), with its goat-cheese-and-Dijon crust, finds a use for sheep outside of pulling dogsleds. Other entrees include fish and chips ($18) and seared ahi tuna ($25), with desserts such as tiramisu ($9) providing a fine finale to feasting. The restaurant also serves lunch and breakfast.