Local merchants’ food and festive treats brighten to the holiday season
December 3, 2016

By Dolly Duplantier

Food is part of the fun of the holiday season, promoting fellowship and celebration. The restaurants, bakeries, bars and specialty food stores are ready to make your holiday season truly special. You don’t even have to leave the area to get a great meal, holiday cheer, and edible gifts.

Bake for Me! offers unique Christmas cupcakes at its Halsted Street, Clark Street, and Wacker Drive locations.

Bake for Me! offers unique Christmas cupcakes at its Halsted Street, Clark Street, and Wacker Drive locations.

BAKED GOODS

Bake for Me!, 4305 S. Halsted St., (773) 624-9900; 321 N. Clark St., (312) 644-7750; and 303 E. Wacker, (312) 228-9676, www.bakeforme.com. 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 p.m.

Ferrara Bakery, 2210 W. Taylor St., (312) 666-2200, Facebook, www.ferrarabakery.com. 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 holiday 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.

FOOD AND FESTIVE TREATS

Superior Nut & Candy Co., Inc. 1111 W. 40th St., (773) 254-7900 ext. 815; 6620 W. Irving Park Rd., (773) 282-3930, www.superiornutandcandy.com, rmastrangelo@sncnut.com. Superior Nut & Candy is a leading provider of private brands manufacturing, contract manufacturing, and co-packing services. Superior is a premier manufacturer, processor, and distributor in the nut, confection, and snack food industry. Superior features a wide variety of nuts, seeds, trail mixes, dried fruits, chocolate and yogurt coated products, wrapped, and unwrapped candy. Stop by one of the company’s convenient locations to finish off your holiday shopping. Call for store hours.

PLACES TO EAT

Connie’s Pizza, 2373 S. Archer Ave., (312) CONNIES, www.conniespizza.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Synonymous with quality pizza and Italian specialties, Connie’s Pizza has been serving Chicago since 1963, offering a wide selection of pizzas, entrees, salads, and sandwiches. Connie’s also offers various catering packages for events of any size. You can create your own menu or let Connie’s catering managers create one for you. The restaurant features 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. Connie’s Pizza also offers a shuttle to Chicago sporting events at the United Center, Soldier Field, and Guaranteed Rate Field. Now through Sat., Dec. 31, receive a $20 bonus card free when you buy $100 in Connie’s gift cards. Call 312-CONNIES for details. 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, www.damenzosbanquet.com, Facebook. Looking for a great place to celebrate the holidays 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 are available from a bar with beers, wines, and well drinks, or a premium-brands and bottle-beer bar package, and passed hors d’oeuvres are available.

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, www.damenzospizza.com, Facebook. 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 holiday 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. Open Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Connie’s Pizza has served the community for more than half a century and offers a wide variety of entrees for hungry diners.

Connie’s Pizza has served the community for more than half a century and offers a wide variety of entrees for hungry diners.

DePasada Restaurant, 1517 W. Taylor St., (312) 243-6441, fax (312) 243-6277. For almost 40 years, DePasada has served up authentic Mexican dishes made with long-held family recipes. A neighborhood favorite, the restaurant features a friendly staff and its welcoming atmosphere will make you feel right at home. The family-owned restaurant is well known for its tantalizing charcoal broiled steak and chile rellenos. Favorite vegetarian items include DePasada’s delicious tacos, burritos, tortas, and tostadas. For dessert, don’t forget to try the flan and tres leches cake (three milk cake). Enjoy your meal with a Mexican drink, such as Jarritos or Mexican Coca-Cola. DePasada’s staff appreciates their loyal customers for their patronage and pledge to continue the high standards on which the restaurant was founded. Delivery is available after 2 p.m. Take-out is available all day. Hours: Sun. through Thurs. 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Fri. and Sat. 7 a.m. to midnight. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Eppel’sRestaurant, 554 WRoosevelt Rd., (312) 922-2206 or (312) 922-6118, fax (312) 596-1202, www.eppelsrestaurant.com, Facebook. 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 it 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.

Fontano’s Subs, 1058 W. Polk St., (312) 421-4474, fax (312) 421-1224, www.fontanossubs.com. Fontano’s Subs has been a fixture in the Taylor Street-Little Italy area since 1932. Home of what Fontano’s likes to call Chicago’s number one sub sandwich, the store features a wide variety of Italian and American sandwiches, including turkey breast, homemade meatballs, and the Blockbuster — a delicious combination of ham, salami, capicola, Swiss, and provolone cheese. Italian sausage is made on site. The deli/store seats about 20 people in a cozy and friendly atmosphere. On Fridays and Saturdays, Fontano’s offers live music. Fontano’s also has a guitar on site for anyone to pick up and play. Delivery service is offered throughout the day. Hours: Mon. through Fri. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sat. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Franco’s Ristorante, 300 W. 31st St., (312) 225-9566, www.francoschicago.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Celebrate the holidays with family and friends at the newly renovated Franco’s Ristorante. A Bridgeport favorite since 1989, this neighborhood restaurant is known for its homemade gnocchi and thick-cut pork chop vesuvio. Their new bar area is a great place to watch a game or catch up with friends. Franco’s proudly offers an extensive wine list with affordable selections from around the world. Bring home some of Franco’s famous dishes this holiday season with catering and private parties. Hours: Mon. through Thurs. 4
p.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. through Sat. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Christmas Eve 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

May St. Café, 1146 W. Cermak Rd., (312) 421-4442, www.maystcafe.com, maystcafe@gmail.com, Facebook, Twitter. May St. Café is a contemporary Latin restaurant and bar located west of the South Loop. In addition to outstanding Margaritas and specialty items such as their cinnamon chipotle chicken fajitas and surf and turf jibarito, May St. Café also offers great steaks from locally owned Allen Brothers. The café’s steaks always come with tantalizing mashed potatoes to order; or, try the chipotle truffle chorizo and lobster mac and cheese. Top off the evening with the café’s famous rich and creamy white chocolate flan, recognized by the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. May St. Café’s extensive holiday catering department includes a private chef for you, servers, and bartenders. Menus available upon request. Dinner packages with limo service to and from concerts, sports, and special events are available. Reservations accepted via phone, e-mail, or www.OpenTable.com. Hours: Tues. through Thurs. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday supper club, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., happy hour 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Pompei on Taylor, 1531 W. Taylor St., (312) 421-5179, www.PompeiUSA.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Founded by Luigi Davino in 1909, and expanded by Ralph Davino in the 1980s, Pompei on Taylor Street 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 toprepare 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. Traditional seasonal specials include fish salad by the pound and frozen baked clams available by the dozen.

Franco’s Ristorante is known for its homemade gnocchi and thick-cut pork chop vesuvio. The restaurant was recently renovated.

Franco’s Ristorante is known for its homemade gnocchi and thick-cut pork chop vesuvio. The restaurant was recently renovated.

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 cafe. Hours: Mon. through Sat. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Gift cards are available for purchase year round. During the holidays, Pompei offers a $20 reward card for every $100 worth of gift cards purchased.

Sweet Maple Café, 1339 W. Taylor St., (312) 243-8908, www.sweetmaplecafe.com, Facebook. With a 1940s-era ambience, the Michelin Guide-recommended Sweet Maple Café serves breakfast during hours the restaurant is open. 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. Don’t miss fan favorites on Sweet Maple’s holiday menu—cinnamon roll pancakes and egg nog lattes. 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. Check out Sweet Maple’s new catering menu on its website. Gift cards are available. Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., open daily except for major holidays.