The walls inside Renaldi's Pizza Pub are cluttered with framed portraits of Italian plazas, Roman ruins and posters of Al Capone, and the restaurant's website boasts about how the Old World Italian recipes are the secret to its success. Many Italian establishments can make these claims, but few have the kind of central location Renaldi's does.
Faux-white tea roses sprout from pint-sized Pellegrino bottles resting on red-and-white tablecloths. Glass cloves of garlic and portraits of grapes hang beside booths lit by bell-shaped lamps. An assortment of tunes-everything from Aretha Franklin and Rod Stewart to Rihanna and Alicia Keys-keeps the diverse range of guests happy. Young couples come in matching sports attire, both Cubs and Bears gear. Two friends anxiously gab about an upcoming trip to San Juan while awaiting their meals, and a middle-aged group of four shares the pizza a la garbage (sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and pepperoni pizza; $25.25).
The menu flexes its muscles with grand choices, like the Gangster Lobster ($17.25): two lobster tails in a white-cream sauce, hidden under a layer of fettuccini topped with Gruyere cheese. Dylan, one of the few and fast servers, enjoys the baked spinach lasagna. Other entrees include chicken, veal and eggplant ($13.95-$17.95). However, pizza is the specialty whether by the slice ($3) or in a number of sizes. Toppings like meatballs allow you to be as naughty as you wish, while fresh cauliflower may keep you from feeling guilty afterward.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez