Two New Restaurants Add Flavor to Central Street

Central Street, among those who know, is already a destination for foodies. The cognoscenti, from gourmets to gnoshers, flock daily and especially on weekends to Great Harvest, Bluestone, The Spice House, Pinto, Jacky's Bistro, Jilly's, and Foodstuffs, among others.

This reputation gained even more steam with the openings this winter of two new establishments, both in the "west Central" business district. Ironically, while neither is a pizza place, both do fill the "pizza void" left by the departure of Michelini's several years ago and the more recent closing of Gino's East at Green Bay.

Taylor Street, located at 2916 Central, on the SE corner of Central and Lincolnwood, takes over the space formerly occupied by the New Day Café. Billing itself as "Home Style Italian," the casual destination has not changed its predecessor's clean, modern, wood-oriented décor, but offers a distinctly different food focus. A step inside offers up familiar and tantalizing scents of garlic and tomato. While pizza is on the menu (ranging from $9 for a 7" small cheese to $16 for a 16" large, plus $1 each for any of 11 toppings), Taylor Street is more than a pizzeria. Daily entrees include a half dozen types of pasta, usually several specials such as shrimp, and an assortment of hefty sandwiches (meatball, Italian sausage, Italian beef, etc.), all in the $5-$6.25 range and all including chips. With Trullo now history, Taylor Street is the best bet on Central for getting your Italian Jones quenched. Beverages are primarily soft drinks with generous refills. The restaurant as of yet has no liquor license and so is BYOB, and is mainly focused on lunch rather than dinners. 847-570-0188. Cash only.

Rose's Bakery, across the street at 2916 Central, is the latest venture to occupy what for many years was the home of Daruma. Open on weekdays from early morning to 6 pm, the focus is on breakfast, lunch, and takeout, except on Friday and Saturday nights when the kitchen is open til 9. Altho curious neighbors were tantalized last fall with signs touting a "wheat-free bakery," and Rose's delivers with bakery cases full of cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, and cupcakes, baked goods, including those made with agave nectar so diabetics can tolerate them, are only part of the picture. Like Taylor Street, pizza is available here, in a 9" size that includes one cheese and one topping for $9, and in a 14" variety with the same choices for $13. Unlike Taylor Street, you can't get anchovies, but you can get artichokes. There are also 4 types of cheese to choose from, including two types of goat cheese. There are several salads and starters, including an intriguing beet salad, and the sandwiches lean toward the heart-healthy side, with a grass-fed-beef burger and organic chicken breast among the options. A variety of juices, coffees, teas and other non-alcoholic beverage offerings round out the menu. There is a generous and easy-on-the-wallet Sunday brunch with choices that include the familiar (French toast) as well as the semi-exotic (a spinach, tomato and goat cheese omelette). All foods are advertised as being free of gluten, peanut, trans fats, and corn syrup.

Parking is no problem for either destination, and both are mere steps from the 201 bus stop at Central and Lincolnwood. Either makes a welcome spot of warmth in which to pause on a blustery day, and both will likely become harder to find a seat at once warmer temperatures spur us all to get out of the house.