Every time I'm hungry for Italian food, I find myself wishing Rockford's Maria's Restaurant was still open. You'll miss Maria's less if you try these places.

The good news, if you didn't already know, Joe (Maria's grandson) has opened a new place and is cooking many of Maria's favorite recipes.

Joe's Casa di Amici 200 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park

The garlic bread, the special salad and the shrimp de jonghe are just as you remember.

Just one peek at their menu on Facebook and you'll see many of Maria's favorites.


John's Pizzeria & Steakhouse 2914 11th St., Rockford

Fantastic pizza and pasta and a prime rib sandwich that will melt in your mouth.

Take a look at these Facebook reviews to see how much people love this place.


Deli Italia 505 E. State St., Rockford

This is where John Gustafson the old Maria’s bartender works and he will still whip up a grasshopper by hand.


His pecan caramel martini might also become one of your dessert favorites. They bake their own bread and also now offer deep-dish Chicago-style pizza. More deliciousness on their Facebook page.