65 E. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60603
Executive Chef Andrew Deuel offers rustic Italian cuisine at his Loop eatery which is a stone’s throw from Michigan Avenue and the Art Institute. Pizza and pasta are handmade affairs and his lasagna is a real revelation layered with house-made sausage and ricotta, kale, Fontina, sausage-tomato ragu, Parmesan and sided with garlic crostini. It’s made with the same attention to detail that grandma would afford but you needn’t look at support hose rolled down to grandma’s knees when dining at the cooly casual Tesori.
550 S. Milwaukee Ave.
Wheeling, IL 60090
Executive Chef Bolla Loza at Tuscany Wheeling runs a lasagna special three to four days a week that’s as close to classic as you can get. It has baked homemade lasagna noodles, mozzarella and a creamy tomato meat sauce. All of the Tuscany Restaurants (Oak Brook, Wheeling and Taylor Street in the city) offer an absurdly delicious March Lasagna Madness special every year during the week of March Madness featuring rotating lasagna specials such as chicken lasagna, seafood lasagna, all veg, ricotta and Bolognese versions.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014, family-owned Frankie’s Deli uses a lasagna recipe that mama Connie has had since she was a child. The Conforti family is fussy so the pasta is shipped from a supplier in St. Louis because no one else in Chicago carries this particular noodle. The sauce? “It take us four to five hours to make a batch of this,” says Frank Conforti. “In order for us to make every pan the same, we have only one person make it. Nick has been with us for 18 years and my mom Connie still comes in every Friday just to make sure it’s up to her standards.” Buy a hunk, get it frozen to tote home and heat for two to three people or go for a pan of it serving from 10 to 30 people.
Related: Best Bistros In ChicagoTre Soldi
212 E. Ohio St.
Chicago, IL 60611
Tre Soldi’s lasagna is a perfect crock of comfort, a round lasagna in a world with too many edges. Baked in an individual crock, this Roman masterpiece is layered with a ragu sauce simmered for three hours with tomatoes imported from Italy and a melange of meats (beef, pork, a little lamb, bits of prosciutto and pancetta) supplying a deep, savory flavor. Creamy bechamel sauce peeks from under the top layer of cheese. It’s just the right size for one to enjoy with a spoon and a song – O Solo Mio, for sure.
You know those eateries that try so hard to look and feel retro while 28-year-old chefs with sleeves of tattoos toil in the open kitchen – does not jive, right? Enzo, Angelo and Steven Pagni welcome you to the real old school deal – a supper club featuring Italian classics right in the heart of the old northwest side. It’s not northern Italian or the menu of Puglia – this is the Italian American spaghetti and meatballs, oysters Rockefeller and shrimp DeJonghe your parents and grandparents feasted upon. Sabatino’s lasagna is a rectangular meaty masterpiece full of flavor you’ll not soon forget.
Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.