If it really is "the small things that count," Linz and Vail has done everything right. With gelato and coffee made from some of the freshest ingredients available, warm brown walls and a bubblegum pink ceiling, wicker chairs with plush deep purple cushions and a staff that makes you feel like family, it's easy to realize you're not in any run-of-the-mill cafe.
Gelato is Linz and Vail's specialty, and owner Susan Dejanovic goes to great lengths to ensure authenticity while maintaining a kid-friendly, carefree atmosphere. The gelato is made from a Wisconsin dairy base and PreGel, a pure, unadulterated flavoring imported from Italy. The shop carries 18 flavors (out of a pool of about 25), which range from the traditional hazelnut or pistachio to the exotic papaya, cinnamon or bubblegum. A grande (the smallest size) is $3.39, and you're encouraged to mix flavors rather than sticking to the "one scoop, one flavor" mindset. Gelato comes in Dutch-style waffle cones (which are longer and narrower than what you're used to) or environmentally friendly edible cups.
If you're not in the mood for gelato or need some warming up, Linz and Vail also serves Intelligentsia coffee, cappuccino, chai and hot chocolate. The coffee beans are roasted in Chicago and are rarely older than a few days, and the hot chocolate comes in flavors such as mint, banana, cinnamon and strawberry (7 ounces for $2.89).
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Laura Brown