It would be easy to pass right by Marco’s Northside Grill, an unimposing storefront nestled along Highwood Illinois’ busy restaurant strip at 329 Waukegan Ave.
But it would be a big mistake.
Marco’s. is one of the hidden gems in and around Chicago that doesn’t get the big press.
It is one man’s dream realized–the dream, of Marco Santi.
Marco, the owner and the creative genius behind this one of a kind eatery is a Highland Park native who lives just a stone’s throw from his establishment.
Although Santi spent years working as a trader in soybeans at the Chicago Board of Trade, the restaurant business has always been in his blood. As a teenager he worked at Del Rio’s–a popular Highwood restaurant for nearly a century that is still serving up some of the best Italian food around.
As a trader, Santi would often work in restaurants after his shift on the trading floor was over.
After a friend introduced him to Steve Lombardo, CEO of Gibson’s Restaurant Group, Santi decided to take the plunge to learn what he needed to open his own place.
Santi worked six days a week over 10 hours a day without pay while he trained at Gibson’s Rosemont location.
In December of 2016 Marco’s Northside Grill became a reality.
The space dreamed up by Santi, is casual, warm and welcoming– a little bit Wisconsin Supper Club with a pub-like vibe and a NOLA accent–reflected both in the decor and the menu.
Burgers are star
Four signature burgers play starring roles on the menu.
Santi put a lot of thought into the burgers. After working with Gibson’s Group, he had learned a thing or two about what goes into making a great burger. He wanted to recreate a Gibson-like burger at a more affordable price.
After testing a variety of blends, he came up with a combination of 100 percent Black Angus beef mixed with ground beef and brisket.
The result: The Black Angus Burger–an award-winning 1/2 lb. burger for $14. The three other burgers on the menu including a black bean burger, range in price from $13. to $14. All burgers come with a choice of hand-cut house-made fries, slaw or chips.
The rest of rhe menu
The menu has all the required pub food favorites including onion rings. wings and loaded tots smothered in Merkts cheese.
Italian sausage sandwiches pay tribute to Highwood’s Italian heritage. Wisconsin is present with the cheese curds and other menu items. New Orleans is on the map with beverages including Abita craft brews, chicory and appetizers and entrées with Cajun accents.