In spite of the best efforts of the late Mayor Daley to destroy it by building the concrete monster known as the University of Illinois at Chicago smack dab in the middle of a thriving ethnic community, Little Italy thrives today as part Italian neighborhood, part upscale settlement and part college town. To find the essence of the neighborhood, visit grocer Conte Di Savoia and guide your nose through a delightful waltz of edible smells when you walk in the door. While there, have one of the best sub sandwiches in town, or load up at their fabulously inexpensive homemade pasta, meat and cheese counter. Then have dinner at Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap, the kind of no-nonsense cash-only family-style Italian restaurant that still posts its menu on chalkboards only, and that use to charm the likes of Frank Sinatra. And then, when you think you’ve mastered the neighborhood, head west to the Heart of Italy or Tri-Taylor and find other treasures even less tainted by the incursion of students, tourists and townhomers.
Little Italy, Taylor Street from Halsted to Ashland
Conte Di Savoia, 1438 West Taylor, (312)666-3471
Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap, 1073 West Vernon Park, (312)733-3393
Tri-Taylor Historic District, Oakley from Grenshaw to Congress Parkway
Best of Chicago 2002