Every summer Joe Collura's family would take a two week vacation in Las Vegas. He never thought he would end up running a restaurant there, but in hind-site it makes sense. His family has been in the restaurant business since the early 50's and he grew up in a Chicago Pizzaria. In fact the name Chicago Joe's comes from his family members not himself. His Grandpa was an original Joe; Father and Uncle were "Big Joe" and "Little Joe" so of course his nickname is "Joey".
Chicago Joe's opened in 1975 in a small cottage style home at 820 4th Street. The house was transformed on the inside only, leaving the original 1933 brick architecture and design for the rest of us to admire. The interior consists of 14 or 15 tables throughout three small dining area. An original fireplace and quaint wine rack in the middle room (I coined the dark room for obvious reason). The back room was much brighter, contained a "specials board" and like the other rooms vintage pictures, Chicago street signs and random memorabilia. The front room holds the majority of the tables (covered in red and white checkered table cloths) and welcomes you immediately from the front door. The arrangement is intimate but "friendly", much like the confines at Wrigley Field. Maybe Joe's Mom understood the importance of that being such a big Cubs fan all her life.
Joe took over ownership twenty seven years ago and turns 60 in October. The city and area around him has changed quite a bit since his busboy days in 1975. It's been 10 years since my last visit and I was expecting some major change. Time may have stood still inside this cozy restaurant since 2005 because the atmosphere is still very pleasant and the staff were gracious and knowledgeable. My waiter, Lawrence, had excellent suggestions and allowed me a quick tour of the place. The food came quickly and looked amazing as well. A freshly baked loaf of bread came as if just removed from the oven. The perfect sized starter salad had the best creamy garlic dressing I've had anywhere, obviously homemade, and going on Lawrence's tip I had the spaghetti with meatballs.
The pasta was perfect as you would expect in an Italian restaurant. Two large meatball fresh from a pot of simmering sauce. Very hot still. The sauce was amazing with tasty chunks through every bite. I remember using bread to finish off the remains like kids do when cleaning their plate. Every fork full reminded me of those 10 years between visits so I promised myself I'd visit every trip from now on.
The menu is priced for the average JOE (excuse the pun). Lunches around $10 and $11 dollars and complete dinners under $25 even with a nice glass of wine. One great feature Chicago Joe's offers are their family style menu (value paks). Strictly for take out, the options range from simple Ravioli to Chicken Parmesan. These meals serve up to 5 and are so affordable you couldn't cook at home for less. Joe's is closed on Sunday and Mondays. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Friday 11a until 10p but only dinners on Saturday starting at 5p. My suggestion would be to make reservations. They do get busy for lunch by noon and nothing disappoints more then arriving and seeing everyone enjoying their meals, smelling the authentic Italian dishes and not having a table.