Kid-Friendly Italian Food in Chicago
The 6 Best Italian Restaurants in Chicago
4 Best Chicago Pizza Places
If there is one food that most visitors look forward to when visiting Chicago, it’s the pizza. There are three styles of pizza that you have to try in Chicago. Deep dish, stuffed, and thin crust pizzas each have their share of devoted followers. That’s a lot of pizza, so maybe you’ll just have to go to Chi-town multiple times!
The gold standard for Chicago-style pizza is deep dish, which features a thick and buttery crust baked in a heavy steel pan, filled with literally pounds of cheese (a large deep dish pizza can weigh in at three pounds), toppings, and a thick layer of chunky tomato sauce on top. You may have heard of Giordano’s, but Lou Malnati’s or Pizano’s pizzas are equally delicious in my opinion!
Stuffed pizza is similar to deep dish pizza, but the crust is lighter, and the entire pizza is a little taller with a thin layer of crust between the cheese and the tomato sauce. If you are traveling with small kids, keep in mind that deep dish and stuffed pizzas can take 30 minutes or more to bake, so you may want to order takeout or get an appetizer while you wait.
Thin crust pizza in Chicago is just as delicious and is offered on the menus of many of the above-mentioned pizza parlors. If we are in the mood for Chicago-style thin crust, my family’s favorite is Aurelio’s Pizza. It has a crispy but substantial crust with a layer of fresh tomato sauce.
The Italian Village
The Italian Village is the oldest operating Italian restaurant in Chicago. There are three restaurants that make up the Italian Village: The Village, Vivere and La Cantina.
My recommendation for kid-friendly authentic Italian is La Cantina, which has a casual family atmosphere. My husband and I appreciated the extensive wine selection, and my kids enjoyed that the kids meals had more advanced choices than just chicken tenders and spaghetti, although those were available too. The timeline for food arrival was quick enough for young children at a sit down restaurant. To sweeten the deal, kids meals include an ice cream sundae, which means you won’t have to share your homemade dessert. Trust me, it was a difficult decision between the caramel gelato and the cannoli.
Eataly is part kitchen store, part grocery store, part restaurant, and 100% awesome. Mario Batali’s brainchild of an everything Italian super-store is fun for kids and adults. It can get quite busy, so it’s better to visit with kids in between peak meal times and on weekdays.
Counters set up throughout the store feature mini-cafés, each with a different specialty, serving pasta, brick-oven pizzas, frozen treats, and gourmet Italian desserts. Lines can be long to get seating in one of the cafés, so we like to order a pizza to-go and take a quick look around while we’re waiting for it.
My favorite section is the kitchen store area. I’ve had good luck picking out unique housewarming and bridal shower gifts here too. The sleek European serving pieces and crisp kitchen linens make useful gifts.
Our Favorite Chicago Hotels
While in Chicago, my family has enjoyed staying at Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue and Palmer House. Both are very centrally located for an invigorating walk back to the hotel with a full tummy after eating at one of these amazing Italian restaurants in Chicago.
You may also enjoy:
- What to do in Chicago in Two Days
- 5 Fun Outdoor Activities in Chicago
- Chicago Walking Tour of Free Museums & Art
- 5 Fun Things to do in Chicago with Young Kids
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Rachel is from Peoria, Illinois. She works full-time as a software implementation consultant in the healthcare field. Her family includes her husband Justin, also an IT professional,…