North End restaurants

If you are tired of the many fast-food restaurants that seem to dominate Rockford, you may want to check out two alternative options in the city’s North End district.

One of the most appealing establishments is the North End Neighborhood Coffee Bar, located at 1408 N. Main St. The business, owned by Louann Lowring and Dana Frentz, offers a variety of breakfast and lunch options including filled muffins, scones, bagels, cookies, salads, soups and sandwiches. They also feature an assortment of coffee drinks, including Green Mountain gourmet coffee, mochas and chai tea.

The café will be celebrating its one-year anniversary on Feb. 21, and Frentz says business is “fabulous.” She feels it draws a good crowd because of its “upscale, yet inviting atmosphere.”

Frentz considers the best part of her job to be working and interacting with customers. She described the café as a “very community oriented place” and estimates that 98 percent of the patrons are repeat customers. She also attributes the success of the North End Neighborhood Coffee Bar to the support of the surrounding communities. “We want to continue to grow. We want to take the North End and see it prosper. This area has the potential,” Frentz said.

Paesano’s is another dining option in the North End. The 1401 N. Main St. restaurant offers a “casual, relaxed atmosphere with Italian food” according to Joe Lena, son of the owner, Nunzio Lena.

While Paesano’s has been in business for more than 20 years, it was forced to close for two years when North Main Street was under construction. A year and a half ago, the Lenas bought the restaurant and reopened it. Since then, business has been slowly, but steadily rebounding.

The cozy restaurant recreates an authentic Italian atmosphere with cuisine to match. Lena cited pizza as one of the best-selling items. Two of their specialty pizzas include the Veggie Pizza and the Sicilian pizza. They also offer traditional Italian favorites like lasagna, ravioli, and mostaccioli. Additionally, Paesano’s serves steak, seafood, salads, and sandwiches. Aside from dining in, carry-out orders can be taken by calling 964-0875.

Remember to think of these North End restaurants the next time you have a craving for something a little different.

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