This year my wanderings and travels have taken me all over the planet. So when I get out and about, in my very own neighborhood and discover that there are new and exciting restaurants opening up in the area (in spite of a horrible economy), I want to be the first one on the scene.
A few weeks ago I discovered the newly opened “Just like Italy” in the Northeast corner of Gurnee (in the old Gurnee Pizza location). It’s been a long time since there was good Italian restaurant to talk about in this area, and let me tell you; this place is special!
The restaurant is run by a really nice Italian family, Mom & Dad and two sons run the back and seem to do most of the cooking. Two daughters run the front by waiting on tables and doing a great job of making everyone feel right at home.
The décor is non pretentious, with red & white checkerboard tablecloths and small mementos and pictures of Italy on the walls and counters, Italian pop music plays in the background.
So far, I’ve been back 3 times; once with my family, and once with a work colleague of mine, and once on my own, and all I can say is each visit gets better than the last!
For starters, all the pasta’s and sauces are made fresh in house everyday. The same goes for the amazingly flavorful soups (tortellini & minestrone) that I’ve tasted as well. The Panzerotti is really special by the way, according to the daughters, they tell me that their dad the chef, is from the very town in Italy where these originated, and that he takes great pride in them. I loved them.
The cold subs are outstanding using quality Italian deli meats, and the meatballs & sausage have my work colleague considering a 12 step program to help him stop eating them! They’re that good. The pasta and sauces are amazing; especially that vodka sauce. My daughter loved the lasagna, and from my taste, I can see why. And the Cappuccino that I had was authentic and right on the money made perfect!
The pizza is very good, I’ve only had two so far, the first one was good, the second was even better.
I want to cut them some slack, since they are only in week three of doing business, and they may still be tightening down few details, but my only criticism would be that I was not crazy about the Italian beef/combo sandwich. But, I am still amazed that they are able to knock this many quality items out of the park, this early into the game. So I remain optimistic that anything that isn’t great now, will be, in a very short amount of time.
Just like Italy is a very welcome addition to the Gurnee/Waukegan area, and I know that as word about the great food starts to get out, they will do a great business, and hopefully be with us for a long time to come