There’s Oktoberfest for the Germans, Columbus Day for the Italians and –at least around this area — Houby Fest for those of Slovak and Czech descent (like Husband Joe). 

And what better way to celebrate the “houby” or as we know it — the mushroom — with the annual Houby Day Parade in Cicero and Berwyn and a bowl of mushroom soup made from scratch by Peter Stanga of the Riverside Restaurant on Harlem Avenue in Riverside.

The restaurant has been owned and operated for 34 years by Mary and Peter Stanga with assistance from daughter, Larissa, and serves delicious traditional Bohemian meals that make you want to raise a glass of Pilsner and salute the family.  

Each year at this time Peter personally sources the mushrooms and makes the soup, which is only available on one day. This year it was Oct. 2. Those in the know – because they don’t advertise it — flock to the restaurant to partake in the hearty, warm bowl with chunks of potatoes, vegetables and, of course, mushrooms. 

People buy it by the quart and it goes fast. Husband Joe and I got to the restaurant at about 5:30 p.m. on Sunday and we were told it was all gone. But a bit later, Mary told us someone hadn’t picked up their order, so we got the last two bowls, and it was great.

According to Mary, this is the time of year for houby picking and in the old country people harvest them to use in many traditional recipes. Peter has taken the old world recipe and makes it yearly for the one day if he is able to get all the fixins.  

Of our soup was followed by beef with dill gravy and a kolacky, picked from a selection of traditional Bohemian meals and comfort food to satisfy every taste.

The restaurant is a place where people can stay connected with ethnic food, and for that we thank you. A small sign caught my eye as we were leaving that said, “Where every bite is a delight.” How true! 

Feed the Community: Not everyone is so lucky when it comes to food, and so the 5th Annual Feed the Community Day will be on Saturday, Oct. 15 at the North Riverside Commons, 2401 Desplaines Ave. 

This year’s goal is to raise $25,000 to package 100,000 meals. Funds go directly to help the needy and the meal packing is done by volunteers. To make a donation or help go to 

This could be a nice family project and for those students looking for service hours what better opportunity.

Share a bit of yourself by helping others.