By: Bob Gourley
I’m not sure about Chicago Joe’s personal life but I like his business cards. They may or may not reflect his past but there are little holes that look as though someone shot clear through them.
Chicago Joe’s is one of those old-style Italian restaurants that shouts “authentic” throughout the place. The establishment, open for 30 years, is located in an area close to downtown that is now part of a blossoming arts district. Joe’s is actually a home with a fireplace, tidy alcoves, colorful lights and a comfortable ambiance.
Appetizers are a collection of traditional favorites like calamari cooked in red sauce. A half dozen baked clams start things off nicely along with marinated mussels delivered mild or spicy. There is a fitting antipasto salad and stuffed artichokes.
When it comes to pastas this place has it well covered. Classics include pasta with mushroom sauce, eggplant, calamari…well you get the idea. By the way, the red sauce tastes as if Mama Joe left it simmering all night. It is the right combination of richness with just a hint of sweetness.
Portions are large and I’m sure they keep a large supply of doggy bags on hand.
A compelling list of veal dishes includes Veal and Peppers with Mushrooms and Onions with pasta on the side and Veal Marsala. A quartet of chicken entrees includes Picante, Angelo and Marsala.
Seafood? Yes, led by a chock full of treasures from the sea. Chicago-style lobster is a favorite along with Shrimp Joe.
One of the best deals in town are offerings from the Lite Bite Dinner Menu that is available Tuesday through Saturdays before 6:30PM. Diners get a smaller portion with hot bread and salad included for $15.00. Even though the portions are not as large, there is still plenty to take home.
Entrees include lasagna, cheese ravioli, linguine with clam sauce, fettucini alfredo and more. Four chicken entrees can also be ordered.
For dessert you might want to finish things off with Godiva chocolate cheesecake, tiramisu, cannoli or zesty spumoni.
Lunch is a great time to visit. Not only do they feature selections from the dinner menu at reduced prices but an attractive slate of sandwiches will perk up your midday. A submarine sandwich is filled with Genoa salami, ham, pepperoni, capicola, mozzarella, onion, lettuce, tomato and Italian dressing.
The Chicago combo features both beef and sausage inside and a grilled chicken edition has lettuce, tomato and a choice of dressing. A daily lunch special has a choice of pasta with meat or marinara sauce, salad and a beverage for $9.00.
A big part of their business is take-out. When you can get authentic Italian cuisine like this without having to fire up the stove why wouldn’t you go for it? They have value packs that include salad, dressing, garlic bread and even plates and napkins. Five people can feast on this pick and there are large savings off the regular menu price.
While sitting inside the restaurant thoughts of early Vegas will invade your mind. Just let them flow as you enjoy authentic Italian in a comfy setting.
Chicago Joe’s, Tuesday-Friday 11:00AM-4:00PM, Dinner 4:00PM-10:00PM, Saturday 5:00PM-10:00PM, 820 S. 4th St., Las Vegas. (702) 382-5637. www.chicagojoesrestaurant.com.