Add a special touch to your Valentine’s Day with offerings from local businesses
February 6, 2016

By Susan Fong

Combine nice food and that special someone, and a great Valentine’s Day will result. With great restaurants, bars, bakeries, and other food shops in this area ready to serve you, your Valentine’s Day will be one to remember.

Bake for Me! Features special treats for Valentine’s Day including heart-shaped cookies and chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Bake for Me! Features special treats for Valentine’s Day including heart-shaped cookies and chocolate-dipped strawberries.


Bake for Me!, 4305 S. Halsted St., (773) 624-9900; 321 N. Clark St., (312) 644-7750; and 303 E. Wacker Dr., (312) 228-9676, Bake for Me! is one of downtown Chicago’s and south Halsted Street’s best bakeries for cakes, as well as your source for convenient catering for breakfast, lunch, receptions, and holiday parties. The family-owned bakery has three locations, plus the affiliated Racine Bakery at 6216 S. Archer Ave.

Whatever the occasion, the bakery’s custom cakes offer many different options, including your choice of layers, fillings, frosting, icing, and sizes. In addition, Bake for Me! can personalize signature cakes and cookies with messages and photo images. Bake for Me! is proud to offer monthly Featured Cakes, providing new cake ideas on a regular basis. The bakery’s pastries, cookies, and cupcakes are hand-made, using only the finest ingredients.

All Bake for Me! products can be viewed and ordered online.
Hours: Halsted St. location — Mon. through Fri. 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sat. 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Clark St. and east Wacker Dr. locations — Mon. through Fri. 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Ferrara Bakery, 2210 W. Taylor St., (312) 666-2200, Facebook,

Since 1908, family-owned Ferrara Bakery has used only the freshest and purest ingredients in making its delicious cakes, pastries, cookies, and specialty cannoli.

The bakery is known for its signature fresh strawberry, custard, and cannoli filled cakes. Ferrara also offers a variety of other cakes, in addition to authentic Italian cookies including both butter and traditional varieties. Biscotti, miniature pastry, and cookie trays also are available.

Place your orders for Valentine’s Day cookie trays now. Ferrara has an extensive selection of hot and cold luncheon items for dining in or takeout Monday through Friday. Let Ferrara cater your holiday event with deli sandwiches, chili, soups, pan pizza, and focaccia. Half and full pan sizes of entrees, pasta, and fresh salads are available. Hours: Mon. through Fri. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sun. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


The Jackalope Coffee & Tea House, 755 W. 32nd Street, (312) 888-3468,, Facebook

The cafe offers coffee selections from its partners at Counter Culture Coffee and loose leaf tea from Rishi Tea. There is plenty of seating in its two rooms and free Wi-Fi is available for customers.

Locally fresh baked goods are delivered weekdays from Bridgeport Bakery, on Saturday from West Town Bakery, and on Sunday from Pleasant House Bakery.

Jackalope Coffee & Tea House also offers a complete menu of soups, breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, and salads. Working with the community, the cafe hosts and supports numerous community events throughout the year. The owners also support local artists by offering its wall space on the café’s walls and giving the artists 100% of all sale
proceeds. Hours: Mon. through Fri. 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sun. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Connie’s Pizza throughout February will offer heart-shaped pizza. Connie’s has locations in Bridgeport and on the Gold Coast.

Connie’s Pizza throughout February will offer heart-shaped pizza. Connie’s has locations in Bridgeport and on the Gold Coast.


Connie’s Pizza, Bridgeport 2373 S. Archer Ave., Gold Coast 1030 N. State St., (312) CONNIES,, Facebook:, Twitter and Instagram: @ConniesPizza. Synonymous with quality pizza and Italian specialties, Connie’s Pizza has been serving Chicago since 1963. Connie’s has two fullservice restaurants located in the Bridgeport and Gold Coast neighborhoods, both featuring private dining, full bars, seating for over 300 guests, and more.

Pickup, delivery, online ordering, and dine-in accommodations are available seven days a week. In the summer months, Chicago White Sox fans can park in Connie’s lot, dine on the outdoor deck, and catch a free shuttle to U.S. Cellular Field. This month, Connie’s will have a special prix fixe Valentine menu Mon., Feb. 8, through Sun., Feb. 14, as well as heart shaped pizzas for your loved ones.

Hours: Tues. through Thurs. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to midnight, and Sun. and Mon. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Damenzo’s Banquets, 741 S. Western Ave., (312) 421-5065, Looking for a great place to celebrate Valentine’s Day or any other day with family, friends, or co-workers? For more than 25 years, Damenzo’s Banquets has been known for its Southern Italian specialties. An ideal destination for personal and corporate events, the beautifully decorated restaurant accommodates up to 175 people for lunch, dinner, and receptions.

Damenzo’s customizes your menu with an affordable budget. Its family-style menu offers table service or buffet. Banquet offerings comprise a choice of nine different appetizers, including fried ravioli and antipasto, three different soups, and four salads. Damenzo’s offers nine types of pasta, ranging from mostaccioli to lasagna. Nine main courses include specialties such as chicken parmesan, Italian beef, and veal marsala.

Choose one of five desserts, including tiramisu. Specialty, individually plated main courses such as filet mignon and surf and turf also are available. Packages include fresh bread, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, soft drinks, coffee, and hot tea.

Cocktails include a bar with beers, wines, and well drinks, or a premium-brands and bottle-beer bar package, in addition to passed hors d’oeuvres.

Damenzo’s Pizza & Restaurant, three locations: 2324 W. Taylor St., (312) 421-1142; 11226 S. Halsted St., (773) 660-8851; 7300 W. Roosevelt Rd., Forest Park, (708) 771-5705,

Since 1985, Damiano Mannino has been living his dream — running his family owned pizzeria and restaurant. Damenzo’s fresh, made to order regular, pan, and stuffed pizzas include only the best ingredients and toppings on its signature crusts. The restaurant is known for its huge slices of pizza, pizza puffs (calzones), and Italian beef sandwiches. The menu also includes sandwiches made with a choice of panini, focaccia, and ciabatta breads, as well as an assortment of salads and made to order fresh pasta dishes.

The family takes pride in offering the freshest and best tasting foods at reasonable prices. Their extensive lunch and dinner menu not only features delicious Southern Italian cuisine, but an equally impressive variety of Mexican dishes including breakfast items, appetizers, flautas, gorditas, burritos, tacos, and dinner entrees. Look for festivities at Damenzo’s patio, a space with a retractable roof. Hours: Sun. through Thurs. 10 a.m. to midnight, and Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Eppel’s Restaurant, 554 W Roosevelt Rd., (312) 922-2206 or (312) 922-6118, fax (312) 596-1202,

Originally located in the old Maxwell Street Market, Eppel’s Restaurant remains for many of its breakfast and lunch patrons a wonderful recollection of the old Maxwell Street Market days. Currently, Eppel’s is located between Canal and Desplaines Streets in the Roosevelt Road shopping district. The restaurant is highly recommended for its banana and apple foster pancake as well as its bacon stuffed waffle. These items were featured on the WGN-TV Channel 9 Chicago’s Best television show featuring Brittney Payton, making Eppel’s even more popular for breakfast.

Eppel’s extensive menu offers new items, as well as comforting favorites such as ham off the bone, catfish, seafood, steaks, and chops. All entrees at Eppel’s are accompanied by a bowl of the restaurant’s signature soup or mixed salad. Carryout orders are available. Hours: Mon. through Sun. 4:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; open all holidays.

Jut’s @ Pompei, 1529 W. Taylor St., (312) 421-5698,, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Looking for a great place to get a hearty breakfast or lunch this Valentine’s? Head to Jut’s @ Pompei. Located next door to and affiliated with Pompei on Taylor, Jut’s offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu, including omelets, pancakes, waffles, and crepes.

The Jut’s omelet features Italian sausage, mozzarella, tomato, zucchini, and onion, while the delicious Caprese omelet comes with mozzarella, tomato, and basil. There also is a build-your-own omelet option.

Pancakes are served plain or with strawberries, bananas, or chocolate chips. Thick, fluffy waffles come plain or with a choice of fruit, Nutella, or mascarpone. Jut’s also offers French toast and a variety of fruit-filled crepes.

The yogurt banana split, a Jut’s specialty, is served with seasonal fruit, banana, and granola. Sides include biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and seasonal fruit.

The expanded lunch menu also offers burgers, specialty sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soups. Ask about Jut’s daily breakfast and luncheon specials. Carry-out and delivery are available. Winter hours, Sat. and Sun. only, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

May St. Café and Steakhouse, 1146 W. Cermak Rd., (312) 421-4442,,, Facebook, Twitter. A great steakhouse west of the South Loop, May St. Café offers contemporary seasonal cooking with a Mexican and Puerto Rican twist and outstanding Margaritas.

Featuring locally owned Allen Brothers prime beef, May St. offers more than just a steak on a plate. Its steakhouse entrees always come with tantalizing mashed potatoes to order. The lobster seafood melody mix quesadillas are highly recommended. Do not miss May St.’s Puerto Rican surf and turf jibarito or the chipotle truffle macaroni and cheese. May Street’s rich and creamy white chocolate flan was recognized by the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Enjoy Sunday brunch with a Latin spin on traditional offerings.

May St. can cater special events or host private parties of up to 300 indoors. The bar is open for happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Dinner packages with limo service to and from concerts, sports, and special events are available. Reservations accepted via phone, e-mail, or Hours: Tues. through Thurs. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Ogden Chicago caters to Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks fans, as it is near the United Center.

The Ogden Chicago caters to Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks fans, as it is near the United Center.

The Ogden Chicago, 1659 Ogden Ave., (312) 226-1888,

The Ogden’s management calls it “The official partner bar of the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls,” and says “We love beer, bourbon, food, and sports.” It is located two blocks from the United Center. The Ogden was featured on the Chicago’s Best WGN-TV Channel 9 show for its smoked garlic buffalo wings and bacon cheddar mini burgers.

The establishment offers valet parking for Blackhawks and Bulls games. Management urges patrons to come to The Ogden before, during, or after any United Center event. The Ogden is a chef driven sports bar with huge 70’’ TVs lining the walls and personal TVs in every booth. The Ogden’s crew says the establishment has the best happy hour in the city — 50% off drinks from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday every week. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Papi’s Tacos, 2324 W. Taylor St., (312) 829-3001. (Damenzo’s website also features Papi’s Tacos.)

Papi’s Tacos offers generous portions of real Mexican food at a great price. The menu includes tacos, tortas, flautas, gorditas, and tostadas, as well as toasted burritos, Mexican pork chops, chicken, and rib tips. Mexican sandwiches also are featured. A great variety of delicious vegetarian dishes also are available.

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast offerings include Mexican Style fried eggs and Mexican sausage with eggs. Papi’s Tacos shares retail and kitchen space with Damenzo’s Pizza, and offers delivery and takeout. Hours: Mon. through Sat. 9 a.m. to midnight, and Sun. 10 a.m. to midnight.

Pompei on Taylor, 1531 W. Taylor St., (312) 421-5179,, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Founded by Luigi Davino in 1909, and expanded by Ralph Davino in the 1980s, Pompei on Taylor St. now is a third-generation
family business offering a comprehensive selection of hot, gourmet-quality Italian dishes made from three generations of Napolitano family recipes. Only the freshest ingredients are used to prepare Pompei’s made-to order salads, soups, hand-rolled pizza, classic hand cut Italian pastas, and desserts.

Pompei’s signature pizza strudels come in 11 different varieties, including heart healthy, Pompei Italiano, and chicken parmesan. Homemade desserts include tiramisu, cannoli, and gelato, as well as time-honored holiday treats.
Pompei offers dine-in, delivery, and catering for delivery or pickup.

The 225-seat eatery accommodates private groups of up to 90 people in its La Stanza di Pompei party room, 60 in the Jut’s party area, and 40 in the café. Hours: Mon. through Sat. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit Pompei’s newest location in Lakeview at 2955 N. Sheffield Ave., (773) 325-1900.

Salerno’s Pizza & Pasta, 1201 W. Grand Ave., (312) 666-3444, Established in 1966, Salerno’s celebrates its 50-year Golden Anniversary this year. This familyowned pizzeria has helped put Chicago on the map as having some of the best pizza in the country. ABC Channel 7’s “Hungry Hound” Steven Dolinsky selected Salerno’s as one of his top three best Chicago thin crusted pizzas in October.

Staffers pride themselves on quality Italian dishes made with the freshest ingredients. The Italian eatery focuses on serving homemade Southern Italian favorites. The Salerno’s menu has it all—chicken, veal, meat, and seafood entrees, as well as a variety of pasta dishes, salads, soups, sandwiches, and desserts. House specialties include homemade lasagna, manicotti, gnocchi, and baked stuffed shells.

Salerno’s famous pizza comes with a thick or thin crust and is made with the freshest ingredients. Salerno’s catering is the perfect solution for holiday, corporate, and family events. Choose from appetizers, salads, and pasta to chicken and veal by the pan.

House specialties include calamari, sausage and peppers, eggplant parmesan, and Italian beef. Half pans serve eight to ten people. Full pans serve 15-to-20. Hours: Mon. through Fri. 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sun. noon to 10 p.m.

Sweet Maple Café, 1339 W. Taylor St., (312) 243-8908,, Facebook. With a 1940s-era ambience, the Michelin Guide-recommended Sweet Maple Café serves breakfast during all open hours. Patrons know their dining experience is more than breakfast–it’s an authentic “taste of home.”

All selections are made the old-fashioned way—from scratch with fresh ingredients. Try Sweet Maple’s must have “Not-So-Plain” buttermilk pancakes with succulent slices of ham off the bone.

Look for a range of egg specialties including the Taylor Street omelet with Italian sausage, or country scrambles such as the 18th Street with spicy chorizo sausage and queso fresco.

Sweet Maple’s expanded lunch menu offers popular items such as the smoked turkey club, as well as its selection of signature grilled cheese sandwiches. Try the Etruscan grilled cheese sandwich with fontina and mozzarella cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, and black olive tapenade on buttery slices of D’Amato’s bread.

The café offers take-out and catering for any daytime event. Gift cards are available. Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., open daily except for major holidays.