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"Mom and Pop" Italian Restaurant

Looking for great Italian Food at a local restaurant....any suggestions? Husband is from New York......

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  1. If I were hosting folks from New York, I wouldn't take them to an Italian restaurant here. It's not that we don't have some pretty good ones here - we do - but rather, it's something that's far more prevalent there, and there are other cuisines that are done better in Chicago than in New York. For example, assuming they're somewhere close to downtown, I'd take them for creative provincial Mexican food they aren't likely to find at home (in the city, to Topolobampo or Salpicon, or in the suburbs, to Flamingo's in Mount Prospect). Heck, I'd even take them to a good casual contemporary American restaurant here, even though that is something done very well in New York and Chicago (such as one sixtyblue in the city or Michael in Winnetka).

    If you'd still like an answer to your question, though, I would consider these to be the best Italian restaurants in their respective price ranges:

    $25 entrees - Cafe Spiaggia - www.levyrestaurants.com
    $30 entrees (city) - Coco Pazzo - www.cocopazzochicago.com
    $30 entrees (suburbs) - Va Pensiero (Evanston) - www.va-p.com
    $35-40 entrees - Pane Caldo - www.panecaldo.com
    price no object - Spiaggia - www.levyrestaurants.com

    1. a new place opened up in West Town.

      Natalinos. they are on Chicago Ave near Ashland.

      Homemade pasta. Great apps and well priced wine list. you get a lot more bang for your buck versus the larger named, downtown places.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chiguy13

        I 2nd Natalino's. Nice upscale neighborhood joint feel. Try the stuffed peppers.

      2. La Scarola in River West has a good, "neighborhoody" feel. Relaxed atmosphere, big portions, and an overly-friendly owner make for a fun night. Food isn't sophisticated like at some of the places Nsxtasy suggested, but good nonetheless.

        1. My first choice would be Bacchanalia on Oakley. Take a look at some of the reviews... we drive about 25-30 miles just to go there.


          1. Thanks for all the great, varied suggestions!!!

            1. Tufano's is a bonafide neighborhoody "mom and pop" Italian restaurant, that is, in a Chicago kind of way. Great food and great local crowd...not a tourist in site...well, except maybe you lol. Cash only and dirt cheap!!!!

              1. This is a family of restaurants but they're all unique in their own way. Their food is authentic and absolutely delicious.

                I went to the Francesca's Intimo: http://francescasintimo.com/

                I loved it!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Chew on That

                  Francesca's is a local chain of 16 Italian restaurants, 4 in the city and 12 in the suburbs. They're known more for being a good value than for great food. They're not bad, especially for the money, but you can find better Italian food elsewhere.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Food is a matter of OPINION and TASTE isn't it? I agree that Francesca's is a very good option. Sedonarealtor didn't say the best, just a place with great food, in which I agree with Chew on That.
                    I have never had bad meal at any of the Francesca's in ten years.

                    1. re: Bullit

                      Agreed. I've only been to Mia Francesca, but I've had a few great meals there, and I've never had a bad meal there. Would definitely recommend it for a low-key, good Italian (pasta) meal.

                2. True Mom and Pop in Arlington Height is Pompeii Restaurant - excellent and family owned and run -

                  Pompeii Ristorante & Pizzeria
                  4216 N Arlington Heights Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60004

                  1. Mom and Pop are the key words here. In the tradition of NYC M&P's like Luna's, Angelo's, and the Blue Grotto, I would suggest a trip to Taylor Street/"Little Italy. For true "Old School" there is Geanaro's (on Taylor St.) and Tuffano's (already mentioned on Vernon Pk. St.), aka the Vernon Park Tap - no sign in front. Also on Taylor is Ro Sal's. Not quite as old, but close. Popular with its regulars. Its worth noting that there are many non-Italian restaurants on Taylor Street, but I'll save that for another time. If you like wine, there is a "New School" wine bar called Bevi Amo with a nice selection of wines. Its two doors west of Geanaro's on Taylor and Loomis streets... Buon Appetito!

                    1. How about Tufanos? If you stray away from the regular spaghetti & meatballs, the lemon chicken is really fantastic - they're served with oven-browned potatoes that you keep wanting to dip in the juice left behind (in a "screw appearances, because this is just too delicious" sort of way.)

                      Address, etc.: http://www.menuism.com/restaurants/aq...

                      1. I recommend Terragusto Cafe at 1851 W. Addison on the North Side (not too far from downtown). It's intimate and the food is authentic, featuring fresh pasta (made daily), and seasonal/local organic produce and meats. It's BYOB ($2 corkage fee I think). www.terragustocafe.com

                        1. Riccardo Trattoria in Lincoln Park. If the chef/owner is not in the kitchen, the restaurant does not open. Can't get much more mom and pop than that. Oh yeah, the food is absolutely outstanding.