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‘Something different, something special’: Elmwood Park eateries prepare for Restaurant Week

The village of Elmwood Park invites the community to get a taste of what its local eateries are offering at the second annual Dine in Elmwood Park, Restaurant Week, set for Feb. 15-24.

“Elmwood Park has a long-standing and growing reputation of having outstanding restaurants,” said Jim Parenti, assistant finance director for the village. “Restaurant Week gives us the opportunity to promote and focus on our local businesses.”

Parenti said most of last year’s participating restaurants will return, adding there are “two new additions, with Eggsperience that recently opened in the Circle, and Donny G’s Ristorante on North Avenue.”

Restaurant Week offerings vary, depending on the establishment, with participants providing item specials, pre-fixed menus or discounts. Among the participating restaurants this year are Seph’s Sweets, Café Cubano and The Original Old World Pizza.

Jen Wolski, who manages The Original Old World Pizza, said participating in Restaurant Week has its benefits.

“It’s getting us out there for people that don’t know that we’re here,” she said. “A lot of little restaurants are doing it in Elmwood Park.”

The Original Old World Pizza has been doing business in Elmwood Park for more than 20 years, she said.

“Our deep dish is amazing,” Wolski said. “We got awarded by Chicago’s Best for deep dish. Besides the deep dish, I would say our breaded mushrooms are really good and so is our chicken Parmesan.”

Mayra Fernandez, who owns Café Cubano, said families are encouraged to drop in.

“It’s very relaxed,” she said, referring to the restaurant’s atmosphere. “There’s always music playing. We are very festive. There’s a lot of colorful décor.”

Fernandez said many patrons turn to Café Cubano for Cuban sandwiches, which are available in several varieties.

“We have the original Cuban sandwich with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickle, and mustard on request,” she said. “The Miami sandwich, which is a Cuban sandwich on steroids. … It has mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and bacon. Then, we have our Medianoche, which is a Cuban sandwich with a sweeter, softer bread than French bread.”

Rodica Popa, who owns Seph’s Sweets, said a pre-fixed menu will be available to patrons should they visit during Restaurant Week.

“When it’s Restaurant Week, you have to have something different, something special,” she said.

Seph’s Sweets is open for business six days per week, offering an array of breakfast and lunch menu items. Popa said she hopes new customers drop in during Restaurant Week.

“When we found this particular property, it felt right,” Popa said, noting a decision was made to set up shop in Elmwood Park eight years ago. “It’s a cute town. There are nice people.”

Parenti said the village takes pride in its efforts to support local restaurants and eateries.

The village has expanded parking along North Avenue, which Parenti said has “helped many of our restaurants.”

“We also promote and support the restaurants with banners, streetscape improvements, and events,” Parenti said. “Our summer concert series and all of our special events give attendees access to our local establishments which, in turn, brings people into them.”

Parenti said bringing back Restaurant Week makes sense on many levels.

“February is normally a slow time,” he said. “The holidays are over, and people are looking for a reason to go out.”

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