John’s of 12th Street
> Location: New York City, New York
Not to be confused with nearby John’s of Bleecker Street, this John’s was founded in Manhattan’s East Village in 1908 by John Pucciatti, an immigrant from Umbria. Several groups of owners have run the place since then, but the atmosphere and the menu have remained much the same (though pizza is a fairly recent addition). Sample dishes include roasted peppers with anchovies, various pastas with marinara or meat sauce, eggplant parmigiana, and pollo mimosa (chicken with prosciutto and mozzarella).
La Famiglia Giorgio’s
> Location: Boston, Massachusetts
A comparative newcomer to Boston’s North End, this popular establishment was opened by Al and Maryann Giorgio in 1990. With their children and grandchildren now involved in the business, the place serves what they describe as “hearty family portions from the heart of Rome.” Twelve different pastas with a choice of more than 20 sauces and accompaniments (by no means all of them Roman) are a feature of the menu. Shrimp puttanesca, chicken florentine, veal marsala, and steak pizzaiola are among the other possibilities.
> Location: Chicago, Illinois
Pasta e fagioli touted as “the best in Chicago,” escarole (scarola in Italian) with beans, risotto primavera, baked cheese ravioli, and steak Vesuvio are typical menu items at this intimate 23-year-old restaurant owned by Armando Vasquez and Joey Mondelli. Vasquez has developed a reputation as one of the city’s most engaging dining room hosts.
The L’Italiano Restaurant
> Location: Bossier City, Louisiana
The Giacalone brothers from Sicily — Nino, Rico, and Claudio — opened this restaurant in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport, in 1984, and their family is still in charge. Fried zucchini, sautéed snails with garlic and pesto, tortellini with meat sauce, shrimp fiorentina, and veal marsala with mushrooms are among the dishes offered.
> Location: Akron, Ohio
Homemade lasagna, spaghetti 10 ways, homemade Italian sausage, fried shrimp, a selection of Italian-style sandwiches, and an assortment of pizzas are among the things listed on the Luigi’s menu. The place was born in 1949, when Nick Ciriello and his wife, Rose, bought a former steakhouse on Main Street here. Their grandson, Tony, is now in charge. Luigi’s is so old-school that it doesn’t take credit cards, but there is an ATM machine handy.