Park Ridge Insider Jennifer Mackowiak on Italian favorites at Zia’s, family time at the Wildwood Nature Center, and shopping at Edie and Hallmark
Zia’s Trattoria photo by Nikki Allen Creative
How long you’ve lived here: I’m a Park Ridge native! I was born and raised in Park Ridge, then after briefly living in Lakeview (Chicago) for a year or so, my husband and I decided to move back to my hometown and start a family.
What you like best about Park Ridge: How can I choose just one thing?! The overall sense of community, local shops, array of dining options, fests, and proximity to the city, airport and highways are all things that make Park Ridge a great place to live! Plus, in just 30 minutes, you can be lounging on the beach — one of my favorite places!
Best meal you’ve had recently: Nonna Silvia’s pumpkin ravioli is served year round and is my favorite. I love that the sauce is savory, yet not too heavy.
It may not exactly be hidden, but Cream of the Crepe is a small, locally owned crepe shop everyone in my family loves. … Silver’s Grill is another hidden gem spot we love to frequent.
Favorite “hidden gem” restaurant: Creme of the Crepe on Northwest Highway. It may not exactly be hidden, but it’s a small, locally owned crepe shop, and everyone in my family loves it. I recommend the vegetarian crepe… I get it every single time. Silver’s Grill, just around the corner from Crème of the Crepe, is another hidden gem spot we love to frequent.
Best bar to grab a drink or to catch the game: I love the atmosphere of Holt’s. They have an awesome drink menu, and the cheese fries are to die for! Plus, it’s a great place to bring the kids and has a cute outdoor seating area too.
The best way to spend a Saturday in the winter: I’d have to say going to Centennial Park sledding hill with my daughter followed by hot cocoa! Oh, and I’m one of those people who actually loves to shovel snow, so a fresh blanket of snow in the morning would be the icing on the cake! Ha!
What’s something you look forward every winter season?
Holiday shopping, festive music, skiing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and LOTS of snow! Winterfest in Park Ridge (which was canceled this year due to Covid) is always fun and a great way to kick off the holiday season.
Favorite store or best shopping area: Edie Boutique has so many cute clothing items and accessories right here in town. Hallmark is another favorite that my daughter and I love to frequent. If we feel like venturing out, the Old Orchard mall is my go-to.
Secret spot: The “secret” park, aka Rotary Park. It’s off of a residential street behind the train tracks. We always went there as kids, and now I take my daughter there.
Underrated activity in the area: The Wildwood Nature Center is a great place to visit any time of the year. We love walking around the pond, fishing, exploring and visiting with the animals at the Center. My daughter and I love interacting with all of the different animals — from bunnies to turtles — and so much more. We can easily spend hours visiting.
What have you heard great things about but have yet to try?
Clean Juice! I’m big into organic foods and have been meaning to check it out. Everything on their menu looks amazing, but what I really want to try is the acai bowls.
My daughter and I love interacting with all of the different animals — from bunnies to turtles — and so much more at the Wildwood Nature Center. We can easily spend hours visiting.