What’s to Like About Rockford: Nunzio’s Restaurant

Nunzio's Restaurant, Loves Park, IL

Nunzio’s Restaurant, Loves Park, IL

It’s been a while since I wrote a “What’s to Like About Rockford” post. During most of 2012-2013 I was in the habit of posting one feature per month about my favorite places unique to the city I’ve called home for the last fifteen years. Rockford tends to get a bit of bad press and since, for the time being, my family has planted our roots here, I thought spreading some optimism was warranted.

So why did I stop writing these feel-good posts? I’m thinking it had something to do with my serving jury duty on a horrific murder trial and listening to the testimony of a dozen or more local police officers. Yes, I admit I was a bit jaded about my home town afterwards. My posting habit was broken.

Yet, there I was at Nunzio’s last Saturday night, enjoying the food, the service, and the conversation with my gal pal about everything writing (she’s one of my critique partners) and everything wedding (she just got married), when I realized, “Hey, I really like this place. I should write about it on my blog.”

So in the spirit of revealing Rockford’s gems rather than ruminating about my beleaguered city, I offer up Nunzio’s as another entry in the “What’s to Like About Rockford” series.

Nunzio’s is a family-owned restaurant that has been in Rockford for over thirty years. Their menu features Italian cuisine from pizza to pasta to pork chops. It was certainly the go-to place last weekend. We had a long table next to us that seemed a bit grim when they were first seated, but they loosened up after a few cocktails, and left in a very good mood right before us a mere 3-1/2 hours later. Prom goers sat at most of the other surrounding tables and there was enough sparkle to steer a ship through a fog bank. In other words, there was an awful lot of this:

Sequins, sequins, everywhere

Sequins, sequins, everywhere

But the real star of the night was the food. My friend Jen and I both had the famous Steak Sinatra, a char-broiled New York Strip, covered in De Jonghe butter and crumbs, baked in an oven, and then bias cut. It comes in two portion sizes, 14 oz and 20 oz.

Steak Sinatra, the smaller one ;)

Steak Sinatra, the smaller one 😉

One half of this meal for dinner, and the other for breakfast!

If you’ve never been to Nunzio’s you should give it a try and if you haven’t been there in a while, well what’s keeping you? Check out their menu here and their website here.

Photos of Nunzio’s by Karin Blaski; Photo of sparkle © Jessie Eldora Robertson

No More On The WaterFront? Go to the DeKalb CornFest Instead

DeKalb, IL Corn Festival, August 2014

DeKalb, IL Corn Festival, August 2014

So every year, labor day weekend, I used to go to the On the Waterfront Festival in Rockford, IL. It was practically in my backyard, had great music, and plenty of action for the kiddies. On the Waterfront = Family Fun Time. I even wrote about it here a couple years back as an example of What’s To Like About Rockford.

Last year, after 29 years, the city of Rockford cancelled On the Waterfront.

Since I do try to make an effort to keep my blog upbeat and positive, I won’t discuss how politics, management, and lack of vision had a role in this historic festival’s demise. A festival that brought millions of dollars into our community. Or how Instead of scaling the festival back to something more reasonable for the economic times, those in charge kept it too huge to support itself. Nope, not gonna go there.

Instead, I took my family, and my money, and went to DeKalb for Labor Day Weekend.

The Corn Festival in DeKalb, IL, (a less than 30 minute drive from Rockford) is one of the last remaining free music festivals in Illinois and has been around since 1977. Musicians such as Lady Antebellum, Joan Jett, Survior, Night Ranger, Blue Oyster Cult, .38 Special, The Marshall Tucker Band,Jefferson Starship, The Smithereens, and Eddie Money have performed there over the years.

The kids like the carnival rides, the kids activities, and the rummage sales. My daughter brought home an embellished jewelry box she found for $1.00 and was to-the-moon happy about her find. It’s also cool to see the historic Egyptian Theatre (picture above) which is said to be haunted and was investigated by paranormal researchers a few years back.

And of course, there’s plenty of corn at the Corn Festival. As well as other carnival food I was not brave enough to try, but I took a picture of the signage, because, you know, seeing is believing.

Chocolate-Covered Bacon, DeKalb IL, Corn Festival 2014

Chocolate-Covered Bacon, DeKalb IL, Corn Festival 2014

Who knew bacon dipped in chocolate was a Greek thing, right? Can you feel your arteries clog just thinking about it?

So until Rockford gets its act together, if you’re looking for something to do next labor day weekend, the DeKalb Corn Fest is a great place to spend a day or two.