Mystery Diner: La Notte Due doubles down on flavor

The phrase "la notte due" roughly translates from Italian as "the second night," but La Notte Due could easily rank a first place in the local Italian dining pantheon.

Mystery Diner: Big Hurt Brewhouse new player on pub scene in Berwyn

Heading to a restaurant named after one of my childhood heroes was an exciting prospect, and the food at Big Hurt Brewhouse did not disappoint.

Mystery Diner: Dao explores sushi and Thai cuisines

Finding a restaurant that delectably delivers on its promise of multiple cuisines in one menu can be an arduous task.

Mystery Diner: Fuego in Brookfield celebrates Mexican favorites

Directly across from the Metra rail crossing, on the corner of Grand Boulevard and Brookfield Avenue, sits 1-year-old Fuego, a quaint respite from the everyday. In a cleverly designed building, the traditionally decorated Fuego is a cantina in the truest sense, a handy place to stop for a Margarita or a cold beer, and some tasty Mexican classics.

Mystery Diner: Bien Trucha treats Glen Ellyn to a toda madre

Newcomer a toda madre is a testament to the importance of culinary balance. The Mexican eatery, transplanted to Glen Ellyn by Geneva's Bien Trucha, opened late in 2014, with equal parts sophistication and comfort.

Mystery Diner: Two Brothers brewpub worth the hunt

Two Brothers Tap House in Warrenville isn't as showy a dining venue as its landmark Roundhouse digs in Aurora, but gives patrons a ringside seat at the actual brewery. The tasty fare complements not only Two Brothers' extensive creations and sampling opportunities, but more than 50 additional bottled craft brews from the U.S. and around the world.

Mystery Diner: La Buona Vita brings Italy to La Grange

When you're craving the taste of Italy, there's no need to empty your savings account on plane tickets and hotel stays. Just head to downtown La Grange and visit La Buona Vita to experience delicious, homemade Italian fare.

Mystery Diner: Union House serves big flavor on small plates

It was a sunny and chilly December day when my companion and I decided to head to Union House American Kitchen in Winfield for lunch.

Mystery Diner: Prairie Café shines as hidden gem

In the world of foodie indulgence, brunch has become king. Stacks of fluffy pancakes with farmer's market berries and house-made creme fraiche fill up Instagram profiles. Breakfast foods with a dozen different kinds of artisanal ingredients dot menus across the country.

Mystery Diner: Sage Kitchen + Bar brunch a perfect weekend treat

It was a crisp autumn morning when my friend and I walked into Sage Kitchen + Bar in Bolingbrook.

Mystery Diner: Armand's Pizzeria flavors artful space in Elmhurst

Having heard the restaurant's roots go back to 1956, and that a family recipe for thin-crust pizza is behind the longevity, we decided to visit Armand's Pizzeria in downtown Elmhurst.

Mystery Diner: Wild Monk elevates gastropub offerings

When eating out, it is a rare find that strikes the perfect balance between upscale cuisine and casual comfort, but downtown La Grange gastropub Wild Monk does just that.

Mystery Diner: John & Tony's an inviting Italian-American steakhouse

Discovering an abundance of delicious options on a menu is particularly pleasing, given my dining companion's finicky nature when it comes to food choices. John & Tony's Ristorante in West Chicago ably meets the challenge with offerings of steak and seafood to pasta, pizza and burgers.

Mystery Diner: Citrus Diner squeezes full flavor into breakfast and luncheon menus

Gracing the corner of a brick shopping center, just off Ogden Avenue and Pasquinelli Drive, sits Citrus Diner, where a fresh and filling feast awaits.

Mystery Diner: Japanese cuisine is on a roll at Sushi Mono in Wheaton

Food cravings have a way of burrowing down into the absolute pit of my stomach and staying there until satiated. Like a troll under a bridge controlling the action, my stomach often waves a hand at the trifles of a salad and instead demands a giant slice of pizza.

Mystery Diner: Bella Bacino's fires up passion for Italian

As we approached Bella Bacino's in downtown La Grange, diners sat outside enjoying their Italian fare on a mild fall evening.

Mystery Diner: Weber Grill elevates backyard barbecue

As the season turns and separation anxieties mount at the thought of backyard grills decommissioned until spring, one restaurant always provides a comforting phalanx of professional Weber grills and charcoal at the ready.

Mystery Diner: Vistro serves Paul Virant take on family dining

I first attempted to stroll into Vistro on a Wednesday evening without a reservation.

Mystery Diner: The Bank Restaurant capitalizes on fresh fare

When dining at a fine restaurant, the thoughtful pairing of wine and entree may be a given, but patrons at The Bank Restaurant in Wheaton reap added dividends with delicious fare sourced in a socially responsible manner.

Mystery Diner: Good things come on small plates at Emilio's Tapas

Whether it's a romantic date for two or a meal with friends and family, it's all about sharing when it comes to dining on tapas, the "small plates" that originated in Spain and went on to deliciously infiltrate other cuisines.

Mystery Diner: Old Vilnius Cafe imports taste of Lithuania to Darien

Although I knew nothing about Lithuanian food, my companion was thrilled when I asked him to join me for dinner at Old Vilnius Cafe.

Mystery Diner: Salseria Grill & Cantina moves to salsa beat

Salsas can seem like an afterthought in some Mexican restaurants, only there to placate hungry patrons munching on chips before the meal proper arrives.

Mystery Diner: Standard Market Grill an uncommon find at grocery

We've always been told it's a bad idea to go grocery shopping when hungry, but at Standard Market, that's precisely the right time.

Mystery Diner: DMK Burger Bar delivers pure temptation

I'm the kind of person who receives a whole wheel of cheese for Christmas, and it's gone before the new year. The kind of person you can't leave unsupervised in a gourmet cheese section for longer than five minutes without having to go back for the full-sized cart.

Mystery Diner: Enjoy game and meal at StoneHouse Pub

I made a terrible mistake when I ordered my meal at StoneHouse Pub in Lemont. Don't get me wrong – the dish I ordered tasted fantastic. I really enjoyed every bite, the flavor, texture, quality of ingredients. It was all perfect.