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Jun 16, 2007 06:56 AM

Downtown Naperville & Naperville Area Restaurants

If anyone has any questions on restaurants, nightclubs, events or entertainment going on in Naperville I would be happy to help out. I've lived here for over 35 years and keep up on what's going on in the area. ~Jane

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  1. Have you heard anything new about the Red Door Tavern?

    2 Replies
    1. re: libgirl2

      As a matter of fact, yes! The Red Door Tavern RE-OPENED yesterday!
      I never heard officially why they closed down (could have been a liquor license issue but I'm not sure). For the next week they will be open for lunch and dinner however they may close a little earlier than normal until they get all their inventory back in stock. So it may be a good idea to call first to check things out during this coming week. (630) 961-0083

      1. re: janybird

        Thanks for the news. Of course it just HAS to re-open the weekend after I went!!! Figures..... I will keep it in mind to call before I go neext time. Perhaps in a couple of weeks.

    2. Wow, so you probably remember the Naperville of old. I left in 1977 but come back twice a year. Our house is right near the Riverwalk so it's great to walk to all the places downtown and not fight for parking. Do you know what the place is that is going into where the tile store was? This is by Timpano and where Bar Louie is. Have you been to Ted's Montana Grtil? I know, it's a chain but it's really good, I really liked their bison items.

      10 Replies
      1. re: manomin

        Yes, I grew up on Gartner Rd and remember when Washington St. was 2 lanes, when the CeeBee's and Krogers stores were in downtown Naperville, the Last Fling was at Knoch Park (very near to where Ribfest is now), bowling at Sports Bowl (now the Barnes & Noble building) and a lot of other stuff. Ahhh the memories ;-)

        I work with Great Western Flooring during my day job and I'll see if they know who is going to be in their former space.

        My daughter actually works at Ted's Montana Grill and we have been there to eat a couple of times now. I honestly didn't particularly care for the taste of the bison although they say it is WAY better for you than beef. The bison steak looked just like "regular" beef, it was VERY tender, you could tell it had less fat in it and I did eat it all. I've heard the difference is due to the fact that bison feed on grass and cows feed on corn. It's not a HUGE difference in taste but enough for me to prefer the taste of beef over bison. I'm glad I tried it. I know someone who is absolutely nuts over the bison burger and has to have it every time they eat there. The one thing I really like about the food at Ted's is that it is brought in fresh and prepared in their kitchen daily and nothing is ever frozen except for the ice cream.

        1. re: janybird

          I really enjoyed the bison burger at Ted's I did not like the squash casserole, too bready, I'm a squash purist so that's probably the reason. You really could tell the freshness involved at Ted's and we had the best server. She was SOOOOOOgood!
          She made the whole experience so positive and pleasant. I wish we had one here, we'll have to do with the bison we can buy at the store pre-packaged. BTW, I looked at your site, really nice!

          1. re: manomin

            Thanks! I checked around a bit today and the only thing I found out was the name of the new place to be opened near Timpano's (where the Great Western Flooring store used to be). It's going to be "The Wild Rose". No one could tell me any details. I'm guessing either a flower shop, cafe or specialty boutique. If anyone else has any more info please post.

            1. re: janybird

              Went by there tonight and found The Wild Rose to be a women's clothing boutique. There are plenty of food & drink places in that strip mall already. Another restaurant in that area would only cause more parking congestion in the evening. We found a parking spot in that lot tonight and had a great dinner at Timpano Chop House.

              1. re: janybird

                Thanks for the update! I hope they have cute stuff. I really like Timpano, the food and service has always been great and even though we only come to Naperville twice a year they always recognize us and make us feel so welcome, happens at Hugo's too.

                1. re: manomin

                  Maybe its the dog days of summer or we just got lucky, but we were surprised to get a table at Timpano WITHOUT A RESERVATION last Saturday night without waiting. The food was excellent, love the atmosphere too.

                  1. re: janybird

                    You definitely got lucky to get a parking spot in that lot. Similarly, we walked into La Sorella at about 7:45pm on Saturday (expecting to find a 30-45 min. wait, which we would spend at the Rizzo's bar) and were immediately seated. Must be the dog days of summer.

                    We tried Timpano once and I thought it was just okay...Perhaps we'll have to give it another try, but I have a hard time deviating from Hugo's when we want to spend that much money in downtown Naperville.

                    By the way, Janybird, you may know more about this, but I heard that more (yes, more) retail shopping is coming to downtown Naperville (Banana Republic, etc.), and that a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse will occupy the same new "center."

                    1. re: RMA

                      Yes, another large building is planned for downtown Naperville at the corner of Main, Van Buren and Benton. I am very happy to hear that there will be more retail, we could use more of that. Along with Banana Republic and J. Crew, American Eagle is planned to be there (my college age daughter was happy to hear about that). The shopping in that part of town is already nice with Coldwater Creek, Ann Taylor Loft and J-Jill and it appears it will only get better. I checked out Ruth's Chris Steakhouse website and it looks interesting as well. It would be nice to hear from others who have visited one in another city.

                      Here's a link more details and I believe there is a picture of the proposed building right on the home page: (click on BIG STORY to view the article)

                      1. re: janybird

                        Thanks for the reply, Janybird. After my post, I happened to check out your website/blog and realized that you already had made a post regarding Ruth's Chris.

                        At any rate, I'm not sure about the need for more retail shopping (American Eagle, etc.) in downtown, but that's a debate for another day. As for Ruth's Chris...I've eaten at the one in Chicago many times, and we also have eaten at ones in other cities. I think it's great, but it has gotten mixed reviews (on this board, I believe). The specialty, of course, is a big filet sizzling in butter (not exactly healthy, but great). Their steaks are up there with Gibson's, Morton's, etc., in my opinion. They will be a big competitor for Hugo's (much more so than, say, Sullivan's), but they may be late to the party.

                        1. re: RMA

                          You're right about the debate delay on yet more cookie cutter stores. And I agree that Ruth's Chris might be too late for the party. I'm not sure it will affect Hugo's that much in that Hugo has those great deals on soups and salads and a much broader menu (in my opnion). I was forced to eat at a Ruth's Chris in Mauna Lani on the Big Island and I can say I've been to favorite part of the night was when the server suggested adding on crab legs a special price of $31.95 and that they would be a great appetizer.......I can't recall ever spending that much on a single appetizer!

      2. Glad to hear that Red Door has re-opened (and only "temporarily" was closed).

        I was born in Naperville and have lived in Naperville or Lisle most of my life, so I, too, have seen the changes. For the most part, I like what's been done, but definitely feel that the area could use a few more unique, independent places. Unfortunately, the ones that have opened haven't made it or have closed -- Clara's at the Square, Elaine/10 West, Copa Cubana, Carzz, etc.

        I keep up with things too -- we've tried Ted's a few times. I actually like the bison burger; however, it doesn't taste that different from beef, IMO. I probably prefer it to the beef. We really like Ted's burgers, but kind of are annoyed by the popularity of the place (hour wait on a recent weeknight -- we ate at the bar), and the fact that it's another Schaumburg-esque chain right in the middle of downtown.

        Also, I have heard that the food at Tessa's (Jimmy Bergeron's restaurant, in the former Leonardo's/Brickhouse Pizza building) is just okay -- not great. We'll probably give it a try, eventually.

        5 Replies
        1. re: RMA

          I've ate at Tessa's. Their thing is huge portions. They have a bunch of pasta dishes on the menu and serve half portions which was pretty sufficent for myself. The food was good, but not steller by any means. Wine service was sort of spotty as when we went they didn't have a list of stuff by the bottle and had their wine server come over and talk to us. She did a decent job, but I prefer to know what is available. I don't descriminate with my wines and their might of been something that they had that was interesting that I would of tried instead.

          They also do family style stuff, but the per person price is a bit pricey ($25) for pasta. I'm sure you get all the apps and dessert and stuff. Be curious to hear if it is worth the while?

          1. re: SirEatsALot

            I ate at Tessa's last night with a friend and I agree that it is just okay. The minute I walked in and saw the old brick walls I was immediately reminded of Leonardo's pizza that was housed there for years previously. Padded benches line the entire wall on each side of the long, narrow space with tables all lined up along side. (One side of the table has the padded bench, the other side has chairs). Tables and chairs fill in the center of the room. The food portions are good-sized. A half-order of the crab stuffed mushrooms came out on a platter with 6 fairly large (maybe 3" in diameter) mushrooms piled high with crab. They were good...and filling. We each had a "single" serving size entree and they were substantial and would satisfy even a big eater's appetite. Perhaps a little more flare was in order in the food presentation area. It was just "ordinary". Our entrees ranged from $11.00 to $13.00 (not bad at all). There is a full-service bar in the back. The restrooms are located way down the hall to the rear and down a staircase to the lower level. We thought the wait staff could use a little more polish but overall, not too bad for just having opened a couple weeks ago. Perhaps we'll go back in a month or two and to see how things shape up.

            1. re: janybird

              When we were there they were building an outdoor upper deck, was that open? Do they serve lunch? It seems like Naperville is home now to a "Martini Wars"

              1. re: manomin

                I am pretty sure that the whole building at 16 W. Jefferson is now complete. It was expanded and renovated completely. The three upper floors are used for banquets and meeting rooms and those who rent those areas have access to the terrace. The restaurant opens daily at 11am, including Sundays, and they are using their dinner menu at lunch for the moment but WILL have a lunch menu in a week or two.

                Speaking of martini's...I had an excellent chocolate martini at Jilly's after dinner at Tessa's and had a good time people watching and listening to their live band at a table right next to the open windows.

          2. re: RMA

            I agree about the food at Tessa's being just OK. All Jimmy Bergeron has done is spent millions of dollars to present bar/grill food in a fancier setting. While the dining room is nice at Tessa's, it reminds one of an upscale Friday's, again, Jimmy's comfort zone. All in all, if you want good Italian, Tessa's is not the place to go. La Sorella and Rosebud are within walking distance and the new Maggiannoe's is now open near I-88.

          3. Any suggestions for a good restaurant in downtown Naperville, reasonable prices (entrees around $15), good to sit and hang out, newer, and not too ethnic ( one of our parties doesn't like curry - I wanted to try that new Masala restaurant, but next time I guess)

            9 Replies
            1. re: jen

              Downtown Naperville is sort of tough for a good place - as you might know many of the places are offshoots of Chicago restaurants. Not much unique. Our favorite of the bunch is Francescas which is good Italian food - although there are probably a half dozen or more around the Chicago area. Other then that Hugo's might be a decent place. Their steaks are more then your $15 price range, but you can do fairly well with their sandwhiches and apps. Maybe grab a spot on the patio at Quigley's and just have some brews. Also, Bangkok Village is good, but most certainly ethnic.

              1. re: SirEatsALot

                You're right about Hugo's. The steak sandwich is fabulous, although it is not on the
                dinner menu you can order it. I love their soups too, especially the lobster bisque and the daily clam chowder.

              2. re: jen

                Maybe Rizzos would be a good place for you to try. It's a two story setup with a patio in the back. Here's a link to their menu They have live music every night during the summer and have a decent menu. I haven't eaten there (yet) but the food looked good as it went by :-). Another more casual suggestion would be Mongolian Barbeque which is on Washington St. right around the corner from Rizzos. It is a popular, fun place for dinner. They are a "make your own stir fry" place that could be just right to satisfy everyone's taste. Just remember to plan to wait if you go on the weekends. Check out the Riverwalk if you have a long wait and need something to do.

                1. re: janybird

                  thanks for the suggestions. we'll look into them. has anyone heard about The Twisted Cork where La Piazza used to be by Trader Joe's? I drove by it a few weeks ago and it wasn't open yet.

                  1. re: jen

                    I believe that Twisted Cork is open, but we haven't been there yet...Will check it out shortly and report back. I second the Hugo's recommendation. They have great food and a pretty big menu with several options are in your price range. In my opinion, it's hard to beat.

                    I'd be careful with Mongolian BBQ...A long wait (1 hour or more) probably is the norm, based on my experience, and the place always seems overrun with teenagers. Maybe this is okay with you, but it's not my thing.

                    Finally, Rizzo's is an okay place for a drink, depending on how smoky it is (and believe me, it can be smoky). We've eaten there several times and the food is okay, though nothing great. I think you'd probably be better off dining elsewhere -- we usually do. I wasn't aware that they have live music...We were there last Saturday night and they did not have any.

                    1. re: RMA

                      Agree on Mongolian BBQ, sort of a fun place, but all the food seems to get comingled and all tastes the same. It is also a fairly large chain.

                      Maybe Heaven on Seven might work? Sort of a cool vibe, although it can get quite noisy and the tables are very close together. Cajun food, but stick to the items that seem more authetic Cajun (Gumbo and such).

                      I'm confused by Rizzo's. It is sort of blah.

                      We went by the Twisted Cork place early last week and it wasn't open. Said it would be opening on the 20th. I'd like to check it out. The menu looked interesting. One thing about Naperville is there isn't a truely good wine list anywhere (if there is please let me know!).

                      1. re: SirEatsALot

                        We've eaten several times at Rizzo's and disagree with your assessment. I am especially fond of the Cavatappi, which I had shortly after returning from a week in Rome. Found it to be as good as any pasta dish I had in Rome, and I've been back to Rizzo's for more. The rigatoni is also good, but I prefer the cavatappi. Wife ate the veal chop last visit and liked it a lot. I sampled it and agreed. Chef is creative with vegetable combinations he serves with different entrees. Try a few of the above and see what you think.

                        1. re: CJT

                          Rizzo's was doing a free Wednesday night wine tasting which was pretty cool. The wines that they tasted they discounted the glass/bottles prices. Very good deal.

                          I'll give the cavatappi a try. I will say that the entrees seem to be much better then the apps. Also, (I've posted further on this in another thread) but I do think Rizzo's suffers from an identity crisis. Dance club, bar, or fine dinning? Very odd having dinner with a bottle of wine and then all of a sudden it's a club.

                          1. re: CJT

                            Thanks for the info. We will give Rizzo's another try. Perhaps the kitchen has improved since our dining experiences there, shortly after they opened.

                            While I agree that Rizzo's suffers from a bit of an identity crisis (although the "dance club" seems to be confined to the upstairs, thankfully), my biggest complaint is that it can get very smoky in the lower level bar area.