Do you miss your Nonna’s cooking? Enjoy searching for hard-to-find imported ingredients? Just plain adore Italian food (we do!)? If you want to get your hands on the highest quality, most gourmet, most authentic, or most nostalgic Italian ingredients on sale in Chicago, then look no further. Chicago’s Italian community has deep roots here, and we know exactly where to go for the groceries you need to whip up that perfect pasta carbonara, lasagna, caprese salad, and so much more.
When you live in Chicago, you can check out all of these specialty grocery stores, and then cook up your haul in your dream apartment kitchen. The groceries, you’ll need to buy, but discovering that kitchen, we can help with that! To find an apartment with the kitchen you daydream about every day, reach out to AptAmigo and connect with one of our expert apartment locators.
Specialty Italian Markets
Neighborhood: River North
Address: 43 East Ohio Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611
This place screams gourmet. When you need fancy ingredients for an upscale dinner, try Eataly. Or, come to this one-stop-shop for dinner at their restaurant and/or drinks at their wine bar before picking up groceries on your way out. Or, arrive early for coffee and pastries at the cafe to fuel your gourmet shopping spree. If you need a grab-and-go lunch, you can pick that up here as well, but don’t forget to stop by the gelato bar on your way out. However you plan out your visit here, you won’t get bored, or hungry. Grab some sweets on your way to the self-checkout stations and get ready to prep that romantic dinner for your next date, using the culinary treasures you just couldn’t leave behind.
Our favorite items to buy here: Head straight to the glorious cheese section and try one of everything (Seriously. We don’t tolerate jokes about cheese around here). Scour the aisles for unique and rare items, such as good quality Marsala wine (not that cheapie junk most stores carry), jars of passata, and hard-to-find pasta shapes.
Tony’s Italian Deli & Subs
Neighborhood: Edison Park
Address: 6708 Northwest Hwy, Chicago, IL 60631
To get to Tony’s Deli, you’ll drive so far to the northwest of Chicago that you’ll nearly hit the suburbs. But, we recommend the journey for their imported ingredients and handmade items to go, such as raviolis, tiramisu, and breads. Eataly may scream gourmet, but this specialty market exudes authenticity.
Tony’s Deli, tucked away in a residential neighborhood, caters to locals, so you won’t find the throngs of tourists that normally stick closer to downtown areas. You can get pretty much any traditional Italian ingredient you need here, from anchovies to focaccia, and even pick up some Italian ceramic dishes or Bialetti espresso makers. Not only will you support a local, family-owned business by shopping here, you’ll step into a store with a long history in the neighborhood because the Dalmazio’s opened this place almost 45 years ago in 1978.
Our favorite items to buy here: Stock up on your favorite items from the homeland – Sicilian olive oil, handmade Italian cookies, cannolis, frozen pumpkin & porcini raviolis. You’ll leave here feeling like you just raided your Nonna’s pantry.
Riviera Foods Chicago
Neighborhood: Dunning/Elmwood Park
Address: 3220 N Harlem Ave, Chicago, IL 60634
Like Tony’s, and equally as good, Riviera Foods, is another family-owned and operated Italian deli and market that has remained in business for over 40 years. You could easily stock your Nonna’s pantry at a great price here, but will also find some of the same brands that Eataly carries without the River North crowds. They stock their pasta aisle with almost every shape and size imaginable, from manicotti to orzo. And, the variety of imported canned tomato products will make your inner Italian child smile as visions of red sauce dance across your eyes. They prepare sandwiches fresh, so order up and grab your groceries while you wait.
As this short feature on Riviera Foods in Saveur magazine notes, Chicago lacks a centralized Little Italy community (the neighborhood near UIC called Little Italy resembles an eclectic college town, more than an Italian hub). However, this stretch of N Harlem Ave will satisfy all of your Italian culinary needs between its markets, restaurants, and delis. It’s not a Little Italy per se, but plan to stop at more than one spot while in the neighborhood.
Our favorite items to buy here: Another great place to stock your nearly empty pantry, make the journey out here and fill up on a little bit of everything, especially pasta, specialty cheeses, and tomato products.
Neighborhood: Dunning/Elmwood Park
Address: 3418 Harlem Ave, Chicago, IL 60634
Homemade fresh pasta. End of paragraph.
Okay, I’ll say a bit more, but do I really need to? Located a few blocks from Riviera Foods, Pasta Fresh sells homemade raviolis, sauces, lasagna, meatballs, and more. When you crave pasta, but lack the time to roll out a batch of pasta dough yourself, pick some up here. Or, take home some pre-prepped eggplant parm, tiramisu… You get the point. Tony Bartucci, the friendly and welcoming Calabrian owner, might very well greet you at the counter himself. If so, listen to his recommendations, buy as much pasta as you can stuff your face with, and head home for a blissful evening. Oh, and you can grab some staple ingredients in the shop as well, but if you leave without buying fresh pasta, well, we might actually judge you a little.
Our favorite items to buy here: Do you really need to ask?
Bari Foods & D’Amato’s Bakery
Neighborhood: River West (near West Loop)
Address: 1120 W Grand Ave #1, Chicago, IL 60642
For a mom-&-pop-style market & deli that happens to sit next to an old-school Italian bakery, swing by Bari and its neighbor D’Amato’s Bakery. These long-time neighbors, located closer to downtown than some of the other options on this list, complement each other nicely because you can stop by the bakery for fresh Italian breads, pastries, and pizzas, and then hit up Bari for imported cheeses, oils, vinegars, and other Italian staples. Together, they make an ideal 2-stop shop combo that you won’t find anywhere else in Chicago. What’s not to love about that?
Our favorite items to buy here: We like to pick up fresh bread (made in a 110-year-old coal burning oven) and a few sfogliatella (also called lobster tails) from D’Amato’s before grabbing any needed pantry or deli items next door.
Conte di Savoia
Neighborhood: Little Italy/University Village
Address: 1438 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607
Conte di Savoia in Little Italy, a no frills, mom-&-pop shop and deli, sells the bare essentials for everyday Italian cooking. You can pick up pantry staples here, such as olive oil, pasta, tinned tomatoes, and giardiniera (really, a Chicago-Italian staple, but good on everything), and grab an Italian sub for lunch on your way out. Since 1948, this establishment has served locals, from Italian immigrants to college students from the nearby University of Illinois, Chicago campus. That adds up to almost 75 years of history! Not many places can survive that many decades, so you know they got something right when they set up shop here. For an Italian market steeped in the long history of Chicago’s immigrant culture, come to Conte di Savoia; then, stay to play bocce ball on the courts across the street.
Our favorite items to buy here: Shop at Conte di Savoia when you need a few basic pantry items for everyday Italian food – pasta, olive oil, tomatoes, salami. Many of the brands they sell won’t show up on the shelves of your average grocery store, but that doesn’t mean you’ll pay a high premium for their imported items. They pride themselves on maintaining reasonable prices. Plus, for just $6 you can score an 8” sandwich for lunch with just about any classic cold cut you can think of piled on top.
Visit these Italian Markets from Your New Chicago Apartment
When only a luxury kitchen will do for your next culinary night in, turn to AptAmigo. We’ll find the apartment kitchen of your dreams for you, whether you desire space, floor-to-ceiling views, or an open concept layout. You’ll bring your Italian groceries home to your new flat in no time with our help. Enlist the 1-on1 support of our award-winning apartment locating service for free today!
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Karrie Fuller earned her PhD in English from the University of Notre Dame. After a decade of teaching college-level writing and English courses, she brings a wealth of expertise about writing, editing, and content management to AptAmigo's marketing team.