Let’s tackle the hard part first. Yes, we know Guy Fieri has been here. The hair, the glasses, the lingo - he’s polarizing. But one thing is for sure: He wasn’t wrong about Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap.
Tucked away on the outskirts of Little Italy, Tufano’s sets the mark for classic red-sauce Italian joints. With no sign on the door and a solid stream of regulars, you may wonder if you’ve walked into a restaurant or accidentally crashed someone’s family reunion. Well, you’ve done both.
Owner Joey DiBuono’s family started Tufano’s in 1930. His sister waits tables, his daughter helps him run the business, and the rest have been eating there since the Capone era. Literally. Not much has changed since then, and the people are still pouring in. Maybe it’s the laid-back atmosphere, but most likely, it’s the food.
If you’re struggling with what to wear, don’t. You’ll see families coming straight from soccer practice, or friends on their way to a Hawks game. We once saw an Italian nonna eating pasta in her long nightgown and sidearm holster, and barely gave it a sideways glance. Chill, she was unarmed, and probably thought it was still 1929. But if that isn’t a testament to the Tufano’s time warp, then we don’t know what is.
Are they reinventing the wheel? Absolutely not. This is classic, no B.S. Italian-American fare. It just so happens that the prices are good, and the atmosphere feels like home. Whether you live in Chicago or are just visiting, you don’t really get what old-school means until you come here.
Start here. All the classic antipasto players, with salami and two cuts of provolone. Meant for sharing, they’ll correctly advise you to order for one less person than your party.
If you’re like us, rotisserie chicken is a full-time sport, and Tufano’s Lemon Chicken is some of the best around. Roasted to perfection, the skin is crispy and glistening and the meat is fall-off-the-bone-tender. A half portion will usually do the trick, but if leftovers are your kind of thing, go for the full. Don’t confuse it with the Chicken Limone.
Deceivingly huge depth of flavor coming from lemon, pine nuts, and tender veal medallions. Hands down the best of the veal dishes. It’s served with a bed of angel hair pasta.
Sounds like omelet ingredients, but in Little Italy, this counts as a meal. We love it.