Chicago ethnic food – Italian and Polish

One of the things I love about Chicago is that there are a lot of ethnic neighborhoods.   My sister Jenny and I decided to visit an Italian and Polish neighborhood in celebration of our heritage.

Italian and Polish immigrants play an important part of the history of Chicago, but they’ve also played an important part in our family.    My  great grandparents on my dad’s side came over from Italy. My great grandparents on my mom’s side came from Poland.    After a visit with my two grandmas, My sister and I decided we should celebrate our  Italian and Polish roots with sausage.

Jeff, Jenny, Italian Grandma Betty, Polish Grandma Evelyn

We started in on Taylor street in  Little Italy, a neighborhood that had once been the biggest Italian neighborhoods in Chicago, and also where our grandmother grew up.

We had lunch at Rosebud, one of Chicago’s most famous and oldest Italian restaurants.

The Italian sausage was super good and tasted pretty close to what our grandmother used to make us.

I love Italian sausage.
So does Jenny.

The dish of parmesan cheese didn’t stand a chance against a parm lover like me.

I once ate a pound of parm in one sitting.

Then it was time for espresso at an Italian coffee shop.   Starbucks is good, but espresso at a coffee shop in Chicago’s Little Italy is divine.

We also checked out some Italian grocery shops in the neighborhood.

My new favorite dessert topping perhaps?

Then it was off to a Polish neighborhood.  My other grandmother grew up in a Polish neighborhood on the South side of Chicago.  This neighborhood is no longer Polish.   My grandparents raised my mom, aunt and uncle in a different Polish neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.  But, traffic was bad and Chicago is big.  I didn’t want to make my sister drive all the way to the south side, so instead we checked out the Polish neighborhood on Milwaukee Ave.

I'm pretty sure Pope John Paul II was not affiliated with this store.

The advertisements of the meat in the side window was a bit off putting.

But, once inside we checked out every kind of sausage.    It seemed like all the food came directly from Poland. Everything was in Polish, even the bottled water and Barbie cake mix.

how do you say Barbie in Polish?


row of horseradish


I had no idea how many kinds of Polish sausage there are.

Unfortunately, the weather outside was freezing, so we had to eat our pierogies and Polish sausage in the car.  The sausage was great. The pierogies were good, but my grandma makes better ones.

It's hard to photograph oneself eating a Polish sausage in a car without looking super weird.

By the end of the day we really didn’t know anything more about our heritage from our sausage quests.   But, both sets of grandparents have taught us a lot about our heritage throughout the years. So, really this was just an excuse to hang out together.

Jenny: Do you know more about our heritage now? Sheryl: No, but who cares.



6 thoughts on “Chicago ethnic food – Italian and Polish”

  1. It must be in our genes! My favorites foods are wine, sausage, pierogies, and White Castles. That looks like a fun adventure in Chicago. I bet the Grandmas loved it.

  2. I love that your triumphant return continues on with feasting. Welcome back to the USA. Please tell me you had a cannoli.

  3. Pope John Paul II was reportedly a fan of Kurowski’s Polish Sausage and the Vatican would order it from there at his request, hence the photo.

  4. Dear Sheryl, I like your blogs. I’m a native born Chicagoan, Polish on my father’s side,German on my mother’s side.Very familiar with Taylor Street, Milwakee Ave, and lots more of Chicago’s great ethnic street delights.You know, we’ve got Lincoln Ave German neighborhood, Halsted Street Greektown, Little Korea on Lawrence Ave, More Polish on West Belmont Ave, and Italian and Polish on North Harlem Ave, Indian and Pakistani, Assyrian and Jewish on Devon Ave, Puerto Rican on Division Street, Ukrainian on Chicago Ave, Lithuanian on South Halsted Street, Mexican on 18th and on 26th Street, Polish on Archer Ave Chinatown on Wenthworth, Soul food all over the Southside, Czech in the near western suburbs, Serbian on North Western Ave, Argentine at “Tango Sur” on Southprt Ave, Great Polish deli at “Sawa’s Old Warsaw ” on West Cermak St. My wife is Italian and Chilean. I’m retired and my wife and I have lived in Tuscany or as of now Central Chile. Have lived in Zapailliar, La Laguna, Maintenzillo and visited other Chilean coastal towns. Now in Santiago; Moving to Valparaiso next week. We also spent quite a bit of time living in Mendoza and visited the Argentine capital for a couple months. Been to Seattle, great town, Keep truckin.

    1. What an awesome way to spend retirement! That is fantastic! We’re back in Seattle now and already dreaming of our next trip. Would love to see more of Chile and so many other places! We don’t get back to Chicago enough but hope to make another trip there in the Spring. We’ll checkout some of the neighborhoods you listed! i’ve heard amazing things about Valparasio.. If you have a blog, send me the link. I’d love to read it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.