Siblings Peter Lia and Maria Salerno immigrated from southern Italy to Chicago as youngsters to "find a better life." They brought with them the understanding of what Italian food is supposed to taste like, and they carved out a life for themselves in the restaurant business.
At first, Salerno's Pizza comes across as just another cutesy Italian restaurant, with scenes of the Italian countryside hand-painted on the walls, dim lighting and fruits cascading down the windowsills. What differentiates Salerno's from all the others is what comes out of the kitchen and onto your table, whether it be the handmade pizza, fresh pasta or escarole and bean soup. If you don't want all the carbs of a pasta-only meal, you can have your cake and eat it, too...most of the veal, steak and chicken dishes come with a side dish of pasta and don't stray much past the $9 to $15 range.
If you're still not convinced of the quality, just step inside Salerno's door; signed portraits of countless celebrities who endorse the restaurant cover the hallway, and Lia claims to have been buddy-buddy with Michael Jordan during his Chicago years. Also, snag a gift certificate for free food if you can get together a winning team during trivia nights held every other Thursday at 8 p.m.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Laura Brown