If you are in Chicago but just not craving Chicago style food at the moment, then Monti’s Restaurant would be an excellent choice. Philadelphia natives and husband and wife team James Gottwald and Jennifer Monti opened a restaurant in near Lincoln Square dedicated to their roots. Upon entering you can see they are very proud of their city and have lots of sports memorabilia representing their city decorating the wall and Philadelphia’s famed and historic Liberty Bell on the sign outside. But they will still let you in if you are not an Eagles fan. Monti’s, which was named because Jennifer Monti won the coin toss when deciding the name of the restaurant, was designed to be a place where you could relax and enjoy a beer and cheesesteak without sacrificing style.
The menu has many local favorites from the City of Brotherly Love including their authentic Philly cheesesteak. All of their sandwiches are made with bread shipped into Chicago from Philadelphia to ensure authenticity, as the unique chemistry of the air and water there gives the bread an unmistakable flavor that cannot be replicated in Chicago alone. The drink selection is also impressive, featuring a number of beers including craft beers, mixed drinks, and over a dozen varieties of hard cider so anyone looking for something to drink will find something to their taste here. This commitment to authentically representing their hometown of Philadelphia both in the ingredients and preparation of the food and ambiance makes Monti’s almost feel out of place in Chicago. The restaurant certainly does stand out as different among the abundance of Italian delis, hot dog joints, and pizza places but once you step inside, but the sheer quality of the food makes it worth the trip if you are looking for something more from the East Coast than the Midwest.
There are plenty of options when you get there, including pizza made from an east coast recipe rather than Chicago, and an overwhelming choice of sandwiches. Their specialty is the classic Philly Cheesesteak and many variations on this recipe such as pizza steak and the South Side Johnny. The best option on the menu is most certainly the Roast Pork Loin Grinder, which comes with roasted peppers, broccoli rabe, smoked provolone. It is unlike anything that comes out of Chicago and each aspect of it layers together into a more complete whole. A restaurant so dedicated to recreating regional favorites from another city is certainly a welcome sight in Chicago as diversity has always fueled the evolution of the city’s distinguished cuisine. So, if you are in Chicago and want something different or are a denizen looking to try something different stop by Monti’s for a roast pork loin grinder for an excellent representation of a Philly favorite. Stop by and enjoy a game and get out of Chicago in a sense for a while. The quality of the ingredients and the care in preparing them to ensure you are in for some of the best Philly food in or outside of Philadelphia.
Picture by @urban_art_chicago via Instagram