by Grace Wong. April 9, 2018
A city dining experience encompasses a lot of things,” said Phil Stefani, one of the owners of the restaurant family’s newest venture, Stefani Prime. “It’s the energy level, obviously it’s the look, it’s the product and the menu, and it’s also that type of service that you expect.”
With Stefani Prime, in Lincolnwood, the Stefanis return to the North Shore — Karen Stefani, Phil Stefani’s wife, grew up in Lincolnwood, and the couple bought a home there in 1985 and raised their children there. The Stefanis hope the restaurant, off the Edens Expressway, will serve as a meeting point for suburbanites and city dwellers alike. This is the family’s 17th restaurant.
Stefani Prime is heavily leaning on that word, “prime,” though the family’s definition is elusive — “the best possible quality, excellence,” boasts one Instagram post, accompanying a photo of the vertically displayed tomahawk steak. Anthony Stefani, Phil and Karen’s son and one of the restaurant’s owners, says the place is not merely a steakhouse or a seafood joint. The menu’s classic Italian dishes, appetizers, salads, crudos and the like are “elevated to the prime experience,” says the younger Stefani.
He notes the tomahawk steak as one of the menu’s signature meat offerings. “The way it’s presented tableside is one of those where you’re taking your phone out and Instagramming it right away,” said Anthony.
The restaurant also serves fettuccine al forno mixed dramatically in a Parmesan wheel, as well as veal valdostana, fritto misto, cocktails, craft beers and wine. A longtime family favorite, chicken Vesuvio, which was served at the original Stefani restaurant on Fullerton Avenue, is also given pride of place on the menu. The bar area will serve the full menu, for people who want to come in for a quick meal without going through an entire dinner service.
Phil Stefani said some customers already have come in two or three times since opening, seeking out dishes made popular at the now-shuttered original.
He shared the story of one woman who had been a regular of the original Stefani restaurant and was visiting Stefani Prime for the first time. “She told me she had (tasted calamari for the first time) some 37 years ago, and it was the best she’d ever had. She experienced it again on Sunday, and she told me it was the same calamari she had tasted way back when,” he said. “She was so happy that she now has the opportunity to have it again.”
“Stefani Prime really has that family feel,” said Gina Stefani, Phil and Karen’s daughter and one of the owners. “Every table is touched by one of us, and it just shows the passion that we have, that we appreciate our customers and get to know them.”
6755 N. Cicero Ave., Lincolnwood, 847-696-6755, stefaniprime.com
by Grace Wong