Don't let the name fool you: Tufano's Vernon Park Tap has nothing on tap. If you're looking for a draft beer, don't even ask. Once you find the place (it's tucked away on Vernon Park Place, just south of UIC) and get past that point of confusion, however, you're in for a good time, so long as you can find a place to park. Valet costs $4.
It seems like any Italian restaurant that remains in business long enough (except, perhaps, the Olive Garden) gets the word “family” attached to it. At Tufano's, you begin to understand why that is. It's hardly fancy or formal, with everyone dressed in casual attire and bread baskets covered in wax paper. Whether it's your first or fiftieth visit, you'll feel a sense of warm welcome. Sixty years of celebrity photos line the walls, and a good mix of regulars and tourists fill the seats. Between the sarcastic waitstaff, the menu chalked on the wall and people laughing on the patio during the warmer months all add up to, well, family.
The menu features one Italian classic after the next, from gnocchi, ravioli and Chicago-born chicken Vesuvio to the perennial special, Tufano's lemon chicken. No matter how full you are at the end of your meal, get the always-worth-it tiramisu. Best of all, the price is right; entrees are right around the ten dollar mark. But be warned: It's cash only.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Mac McCormick