With a cafe in Elmwood Park and a takeout spot on Navy Pier, Massa is renowned for authentic paninis, pizza, fried dough and other Italian specialties. Jeff Mauro swung by for the Italian stuffed Panzerotti, and locals recommend concluding any date night here with authentic, otherworldly gelato.
At Jimmy's Place, everything is made in-house from scratch daily using family recipes for authentic Chicago-Italian food. Jeff Mauro went to this popular restaurant searching for the secret to its delicious bone-in Chicken Vesuvio to create an inspired Chicken Vesuvio Sandwich.
Owned by Jeff Mauro's aunt and uncle, Bernard's Cafe and Deli has been making homemade breads and pastas daily since 1987. Try a grilled vegetable sandwich on focaccia, one of Jeff's favorites, or sample a slice of pizza.
Sandwich King Jeff Mauro calls the owner of SkrineChops “the pope of smoked tri-tip” because of his talent for transforming this underappreciated cut of beef into a super-flavorful sandwich filling. Topped with mashed potatoes and barbecue sauce, his tasty tri-tip sandwiches really hit the spot.
As a Chicago (and Jeff Mauro) favorite, Calabria Imports has become synonymous with authentic Italian food. The original owner, Freddy, keeps customers coming back with The Original Freddy, a sandwich packed with grilled sausage, roasted peppers, melted mozzarella and Calabria's special red sauce.
Le Reve's menu evokes a French bistro with plates such as crepes and the Filet de Boeuf sandwich (beef tenderloin with Cambozola cheese). But it was the restaurant's patisserie that led to a visit from Jeff Mauro. How could the Sandwich King pass up giant macarons spanning 8 inches across?
Grahamwich in downtown Chicago cranks out some cutting-edge sandwiches. Though its menu is filled with the classics, you're not going to get them the old deli way here. Instead, Graham, who Jeff Mauro dubbed the "Sandwich Wizard," serves kicked-up renditions of Reubens, grilled cheese and more.
Sandwich King's Jeff Mauro has been visiting Conte Di Savoia his whole life, namely for the caprese sandwich made with handmade mozzarella and fresh basil. Conte Di Savoia has been serving this since 1948, along with more than a dozen other pastas, salads and Italian meats.
For more than 30 years, Chicagoans like Jeff Mauro have headed to one of Pita Inn’s various locales for mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine. A favorite is the shawarma meat, which Jeff calls “so succulent and so juicy.” And almost every entrée entree comes with warm pita bread baked right on the premises.
When Jeff Mauro wanted to make the perfect schnitzel sandwich, he headed to Edelweiss for advice. The family-owned restaurant serves authentic German fare, like schnitzel, Bavarian pretzels, wienerschnitzel and spatzle, in addition to offering an assortment of 16 imported beers on tap.
Paulina Meat Market is the oldest sausage shop in Chicago. The sausages are made with fresh ingredients by hand. Jeff Mauro went there looking for the perfect Polish sausage to complete his Maxwell Street Polish sandwich; he found the sausage with the help of store owner Bill Begale.
This is where Jeff Mauro found the perfect provolone and aged cheddar for his grilled cheese sandwich. With more than 350 cheeses and a variety of beers and meats housed in a castle-like building (turrets included), Mars Cheese Castle deserves to be called the "Kingdom of Cheese."
Bland food need not apply at Jerky Jerk restaurant. Here, they cook with classic jerk spices that include cinnamon, nutmeg and spicy ingredients like habanero peppers. Jeff Mauro loves their “plenty of punch” fried jerk chicken sandwich that not only has plenty of heat, but also plenty of chicken.
For more than 30 years, Jeff Mauro's favorite place to get an Italian beef sandwich has been Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park near Chicago. The thin-sliced roast beef is dripping in au jus and topped with sweet peppers, creating a hot and juicy sandwich that has been a local favorite for decades.
This burger spot may be a throwback in terms of decor, but it has some fancy touches. Here, you can down hand-cut seasoned fries, Chicago dogs and two types of freshly ground burgers. Hand-dipped milkshakes are amazing, too, especially in the summer, when fresh fruits are incorporated.