The space housed greasy spoons for around 30 years, but of a different kind. Isabel's, on the south side of Diversey in the former The Grove space, is an Italian diner. "You have Greek diners, you have American diners," owner David Stingola says. "But there's no Italian diners."
Named after Stingola's great aunt Isabel, Isabel's serves breakfast through dinner from 7 a.m. until 9 or 10 p.m., focusing on house-made and locally-sourced ingredients at an affordable price point. Look for house-made ham and corned beef, house-cured salmon and hand-rolled pastas. Nothing on the breakfast or lunch menus is over $10.
On the beverage side, there's a tidy 18-bottle wine list now, with beer and liquor coming later in the week. Look for all top-shelf liquors and cordials but no specialty cocktails.
Stingola describes it as an "upscale diner without upscale prices." The interior is filled with 108 seats and booths, tables, and a five-seat counter, artwork depicting the ingredient-sourced locales of Napa and Tuscany hang on the walls.
The owner of The Grove sold the space to Stingola on November 29, and Stingola (The Gage, Gibson's, and many Wrigleyville spots) opened up Isabel's seven weeks later. Even Isabel herself can be proud of that.