Owner Luciano Silvestri still runs the place, and insists he offers the best spaghetti alla carbonara in the city. I never doubt Luciano.
Why is your veal saltimbocca so great?
"Because we use the best veal. The freshest ingredients. It's tasty. I don't know what else to say," Luciano said.
My friend Old School, who helps me with this column, has his own comfort food. The chicken and waffles at Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles, 3947 S. King Drive.
"Their best stuff is their fried chicken. You can taste the crunchy crust even when it's cooked into a giant omelet," Old School says. "It's the crunchy and the sweet and the salty."
Others I can't live without: Palermo's on 95th, 4849 W. 95th St. (Palermo's special, extra crispy, extra sauce and Tony Calderone's Nona's Cake); Capri Ristorante, 324 Burr Ridge Parkway, Burr Ridge (everything); Los Gallos Taqueria, 4252 S. Archer Ave. for the famed beef soup called carne en su jugo or "meat in its own juices." I can't explain it either.
Greek Islands, 200 S. Halsted St. or in Lombard for sea bass and dandelion greens — ask if they have any of the big, salted sardines from the island of Mytilene.
And Volare, 201 E. Grand Ave., where owner Benny Siddu knows I'm crazy for his peppers and sausage and order them almost every time I'm there because, well, they're the best peppers and sausage in town. Benny loves the veal shanks. Me, too.
Steaks: my working lunches, Gene & Georgetti, 500 N. Franklin St. (steak vesuvio, medium rare, martini with bleu cheese olives) and The Chicago Cut Steak House, 300 N. LaSalle St.
When I take my family out for steak, we go to Golden Steer, 635 Roosevelt Road, Forest Park, for big killer steaks and amazing French onion soup. The restaurant hasn't been redecorated since Jackie Kennedy married Ari Onassis, and that's OK.
Another place Old School and I have lunch is Sayat Nova, 157 E. Ohio St. I go for the spicy Armenian sauteed lamb; Old School orders the kebabs.
Across the street is Lavazza Cafe, 162 E. Ohio St., for coffee and the mocha orange coffee milkshake, the "blendissimo." That's like drinking an Orange Milano cookie.
There are so many great places I can't possibly include them all in one column. But I can tell you this.
Enjoy. And please, beware. Don't get RST.