The last six months or so, the usually calm and stagnant Upper Valley restaurant scene has had a few changes. One of bigger segments changing is the pizza scene: since last summer, we’ve had two new pizzerias show up in town, Cantore’s Pizza in West Leb in Glen Road Plaza, and Ziggy’s Pizza in North Country Plaza further down 12A. I plan to review both of these places, but I’ll start with Cantore’s. Cantore’s opened late last summer, being run by local experienced restauranteurs John Kelley and Vinnie Cantore (by the way, if you were wondering… the owner of Cantore’s is the brother of Jim Cantore, Weather Channel meteorologist and former Upper Valley resident). And while the Upper Valley is literally chock-a-block with pizza places (most having “Village” or “Chef” in their names), Cantore’s is trying to set themselves apart by doing a New York style pizza, and trying to use a better selection of ingredients: better mozzarella, fresher toppings, etc…
Where Offbeat Eats has been:
I’ve always liked Italian Ice as a treat. While I’ve always had a love for ice cream, there are times when I really am not craving a dairy treat, primarily due to weather or activity (others may vary in this, but for me, the combination of “parched” and “dairy” isn’t at all pleasant). A simple frozen dessert made with fruit, water, sugar, and little else, this dessert goes by a lot of names. Around the East coast it’s often called “water ice”. Growing up in Arizona, there was no standard name for it, but I always fondly remember trips to Sno Oasis (in Tempe, now long gone), or Eegee’s (in Tucson, still a solid regional chain) for a nice frozen snack with real fruit flavors (and possibly some food coloring…). In Chicago (and most of the Midwest), however, these go by the names “Italian Ice” or “Italian Lemonade”… and there’s one well-recognized place to get them in Little Italy/Taylor Street, and that’s Mario’s Italian Lemonade, which was Stop #4 on the Death March. We stopped at Mario’s for several reasons. First, Mario’s has location. Located in what used to be the front yard of one of four townhouses, Mario’s is literally across the street from Al’s #1 Italian Beef, and makes a perfect stop for a light dessert to offset the rather heavy, and somewhat messy, Italian Beef sandwich that you just ate from Mario’s.