Chicago ethnic food – Italian and Polish

Posted by on May 28, 2011

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.