Tina's Italian Cafe and Bake Shop, Gurnee, Illinois homepage
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avatarPut this on your favorites list! Today was my first meal (take out) from Tina's and I am now a huge fan!

The food is fresh, homemade and the portions are amazing! The pumpkin soup is out-of this world!

April D. Grayslake, IL
avatarI cannot explain why I have not submitted a review sooner, since we have been patrons for years. My only defense is that we probably do not fully regard Tina's as a business, but more like a favorite auntie's familiar kitchen, where she serves food that is similar to mom's, about as good, but in a different way good ... as it should be. Food is always top quality, prepared on premises from scratch, wholesome and fresh. As is the case concerning Tina, there is no pretension about it.

Since Tina's is a small establishment, a bakeshop cafe, with very limited seating, either plan to arrive at opening (Not 5 minutes after!) or between 1:30 and 2:00 PM, when you can be seated, order and eat at your leisure. You may also observe Tina peel garlic or chop something for the next day, as she simultaneously directs her staff and motions, with pairing knife in hand, them through their daily closing and cleaning routines (always with bleach) without missing a beat.

Whatever you select for your meal, leave room for cannoli or cookies to sweeten your departure.

Thomas K. Lake County, IL
avatarAs many have mentioned before me, and quite frankly one of the reasons I stopped in, this is the perfect hidden gem. An Italian ristorante, cafe tucked away with authentic decor; petite tables, pasta boxes, photographs of Tina and family, etc.

I indulged in: Organic greens salad with croutons, tomatoes, provolone cheese, and house dressing. (Of course we started with Tina's infamous fresh, homemade bread and grated Parmesan.)

Tip: Watch and get to know Tina, she loves food and her guests.

Brittany C. Waukegan, IL
avatarBest. Cannolis. Ever. Go there immediately!

Coming from someone who grew up near Taylor Street (little Italy).

Holly H. Lake Villa, IL
avatarThis quaint cafe is the perfect place to meet a friend for lunch or just dessert and coffee. In the morning, it is also a nice and quiet place to grab a cup of coffee and to do some work on your laptop. The staff is so friendly and welcoming, the homemade food is really delicious, and the atmosphere is comforting. The shelves are decorated with family photos, and the tablecloths are crocheted, which gives the cafe a home-like feeling. They offer a homemade minestrone plus a soup special everyday. The minestrone is the best I've ever had. If I could get my hands on that recipe, I would make vats of it and eat it everyday.

I'm usually get the 1/2 sandwich and bowl of soup combo (because I cannot come here without getting Tina's minestrone). There is also a list of entree specials, which changes everyday as well. The regular menu offers tasty sandwiches, pasta dishes and salads, which are all made from scratch.... even the bread! It is obvious that Tina and her staff are passionate about food and friendly service.

They also cater!

Ruthie M. Crystal Lake, IL
avatarSimply Good Food.

The food is fresh, delicious, seasonal, and simple. They make their own bread there daily and it shows. The bread is flaky, soft, buttery, and just a little bit spongy. And it complimented the olive oil and parmesan dip that they serve on the side. The flavors remind me of a great home cooked meal. It's like the house you never want to leave because you know you'll be fed well.

The staff was kind and attentive and I loved the charm of the place + the cookies at the counter were delicious. Good portions and reasonable pricing. Tina's is the way Italian food should taste.

Ashley H. Walnut, CA
avatarMy favorite "find" for lunches at work and the price can't be beat.

First of all the atmosphere is so welcoming, it feels like you're eating in a long lost Italian grandmother's kitchen :)

It's very hard for me to break my rule of always trying something new b/c the chicken salad sandwhich/salad is SO GOOD. I absolutely love their summer salad (mixed greens...strawberries...mangoes) and fresh out of the oven focaccia.
The roasted pumpkin soup is also a great (and I think seasonal) choice.

Desserts are home made too - so no matter how full you are you must at least take one to-go (tiramisu....mascarpone brownie)

Sophia J. Wheeling, IL
avatarTalk about a hidden gem, geez. Where have you been all my life, Tina? The companion's mom frequently brings home baked goods from Tina's and the occasional lasagna which is darn good, but what a great lunch spot, particularly if you're tired of the various chains in the area.

All the baked goods and breads are made in house. And everything is delicious. The 1/2 sandwich and soup combo includes any of the many sandwiches, including the delicious Italian sausage sandwich that I tried. The housemade minestrone was a perfect complement to it.

There are lots of veg options for my main squeeze, which puts this place high on the rotation for parental visits.

Service is super fast, super friendly, and when we went there were brownie samples at the register. BROWNIE SAMPLES.

Rachel H. Chicago, IL
avatarWhat a cute little gem in a strip mall. When we went here to grab a bite at lunch time, this place was packed! We had to wait a few minutes for a table but it was well worth the wait. Everyone I was with had the same thing, chicken salad sandwich with summer fruit salad, Gorgonzola cheese and greens. We were here about a week ago and I was surprised to see summer fruit on still the menu. The fruit consisted of a berry mix.

My only complaint was the bread was a tad bit oily for me. The sandwich was very rich and the dressing was sweet and tangy. We also all shared a cannoli and that was very good too! There was ample amount of sweet ricotta cheese and pistachios! I can't wait to try more options on the menu. It's reasonably priced and you will find a great variety of Italian deli items.

"Former Chicago girl living in Western Michigan"

Sarah L. Holland, MI
avatarI've heard a lot about this restaurant particularly in the past 2 weeks (all good), and had to try it out. You'd drive right past it if you didn't know it was there, but the goodness is right behind a tiny sign in the plaza on the southeast corner of Washington & 21 in Gurnee. It is family owned, and Tina herself works in the kitchen and behind the counter daily. It is only open for breakfast and lunch and is closed on Sundays, so plan your visit accordingly. The restaurant is small and cozy, kind of like you're having lunch in someone's kitchen. I loved it!

Ten feet from the front door you are greeted with the scent of fresh baked goods and Italian goodness. If you aren't hungry when you walk in, you will be by the time you sit down. The menu has plenty of variety - salads, soups, sandwiches, and Italian pasta favorites like spaghetti & meatballs and lasagna. And you won't miss the dessert collection on the way in - plenty of fresh baked cookies, pastries, and tiramisu, which all look amazing.

Fresh bread with olive oil and parmesan waits at the table for you, so I started with that (perfect mushy Italian bread!) and a cup of the amazing cream of asparagus soup. I chose a salad with grilled pears, gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, mixed greens, and a light vinegarette dressing as the main course. To finish things off I had a rolled cinnamon pasty around cream cheese filling and it was honestly one of the tastiest desserts I have ever had anywhere. All this with a Diet Coke and I left stuffed for only $16. Perfecto!

Heather A. Lake Villa, IL