Daytripper: University Village and Little Italy

When Italians immigrated to the United States, one of the areas that they settled in was Chicago’s Near West Side, now known as “Little Italy.”

Many of Little Italy’s Taylor Street establishments have been around for decades and have a rich history, particularly in relation to food. Here are some of our favorite places to wine and dine.

Davanti Enoteca
This intimate, rustic Italian restaurant, from the owners of Mia Francesca, features many shareable plates, such as crispy pizzas, homemade pastas and more. The dishes are a fresh take on Italian fare. Don’t miss the mascarpone-topped polenta, black-pepper pasta, or Mason jars filled with delicious spreads. 1359 W. Taylor St., Chicago, 312-226-5550

Scafuri Bakery
At the turn of the century, Luigi Scafuri immigrated to Chicago and opened his namesake bakery. In 2007, the bakery closed—much to the dismay of the locals. Last month, Scafuri family members re-opened the bakery, selling all of the specialty items they had been known for. Fresh breads, Italian cookies, pizza, pastries and an espresso bar are now drawing a new generation of clients. 1337 W. Taylor St., Chicago, 312-733-8881

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Mario’s Italian Lemonade
Don’t be surprised to see a line around the block on a hot summer day at this Taylor Street staple. Chunks of real fruit are mixed into sweet shaved ice. Mario’s is only in business during the summer, and they stay open late. 1068 W. Taylor St., Chicago

Three Aces
Three Aces is a bar and restaurant with edge. The farm-to-table menu offers a variety of options, while the funky décor and great music draw a diverse crowd. The mile-long list of beers and specialty cocktails make this a great spot for a pre- or post-dinner drink. Take advantage of the outdoor patio to dine al fresco, and don’t pass up the Bolognese French fries and award-winning burger. 1321 W. Taylor St., Chicago, 312-243-1577

RoSal’s
You’ll feel like you stepped into an Italian grandmother’s home at this cozy family restaurant. In business for 23 years, RoSal’s is a great place to dine for a special occasion. The menu features authentic Italian favorites, and the lasagna is a house specialty. 1154 W. Taylor St., Chicago, 312-243-2357

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Looking for a little entertainment on the side? The Annual Taylor Street Festa Italiana kicks off on August 22 and runs through August 25, featuring live entertainment, contests, and tastes from Taylor Street’s many renowned restaurants.