Thanks for visiting. We aren't actively blogging here anymore. Please visit us on our new site.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Picking Up the Pieces

Does any other food item inspire the kind of fanaticism, feuding and philosophizing that is caused by pizza? Chicagoans have had a running battle with New Yorkers for decades regarding pizza – but let's face it, we can't even agree amongst ourselves about what makes a truly great pizza. I think that's the beauty of what is too simply labeled "Chicago Style" pizza. Chicago has every style of pizza and no matter how you slice it, we get it right.

Chicago has famous pizza. Go anywhere in the country, even other parts of the world, and people speak rapturously about Gino's and Uno (those of us who grew up with them don't need to use their formal names, right?). I grew up in the Chicago suburb of Hillside, where you could find a delectable, greasy, oregano-perfumed thin crust on practically every corner. The pan pizza, or thick crust, or deep dish, seemed to arrive a little later, but we embraced it (and often inhaled it) with the same affection we showed its skinny sibling.

Now I work in Des Plaines, 5 days a week. So I'm asking you - how's the pizza?

I will share a Des Plaines pizza story with you, a miraculous story of pizza craved and pizza delivered. Two years ago I met up with my brother for a concert at the Allstate Arena. It was Friday night after a hectic week and we wanted a good meal before the show. I remembered that one of those famous pizza chains had a restaurant near the arena and we clawed our way through the rush hour traffic, dreaming about the delicious end to our quest.

Except that we didn't know the restaurant had closed some months before.

We went from dreamy to desperate. Relatively unfamiliar with the surroundings, I pointed north toward Des Plaines and said, "Head that-a way!" Wouldn't you know it, through the wonders of serendipity, we found Armando's Pizza at 1591 Lee Street in Des Plaines. Got a table, a friendly waitress and then -- a deep dish pizza that knocked our socks off. Hot, flaky crust, flavorful sauce, and just enough cheese. Fresh, hot cheese, not that "cheese product" that's like flavorless rubber cement. We were noisily stuffing it in our mouths and yet couldn't stop commenting on how delicious it was. Since that night, if I'm out this way and the occasion calls for pizza, Armando's gets my vote every time. This just in - Armando's has closed since the time I last ate there. Now I need your pizza recommendations more than ever! See the comments below for more information and to suggest your favorite pizza parlor.

How about you? Who gets your business when nothing but pizza will do? Send us your recommendations and, if you'll share, best-kept secrets. While we wait for your votes, here's a list of library books, even a movie, to guide you in your search for the perfect pizza.

The Man Who Ate Everything - Food critic Jeffrey Steingarten has an opinion about anything you can eat or drink and he really pontificates about pizza. A New Yorker only recently won over to Chicago's culinary charms, read Steingarten for a funny if bull-headed take on pizza. Call number – 641.0130207 STE

Easy Recipes for Great Homemade Pizzas, Focaccia, and CalzonesCharles Scicolone. Can't find a commercial pizza you like? Make one yourself. Call number – 641.8248 SCI New Book

American Pie: My Search for the Perfect PizzaMaster bread baker Peter Reinhart does the legwork (and chew work?) for you. Call number – 641.8248 REI

Pizza: the Dish, the Legend – Translated from the Italian, this book traces pizza from its Italian origins to the modern table. By Rosario Buonassisi. Call number – 641.824 BUO

For kids, check out Let's Make Pizza by Mary Hill. Call number -- E 641.824 HIL

After your pizza arrives or finishes baking, watch Mystic Pizza, the big screen breakthrough of young Julia Roberts. In our DVD Comedy section.


  1. My vote has to go to Little Villa -great thin crust pizza. My favorite is sausage and mushroom.

  2. I like the pizza at Trattoria D.O.C. There's one in Chicago and one in Evanston. It's just like the pizza in Italy, very thin crust (but huge) baked in a wood burning oven. The best is potato& rosemary.

  3. Absolutely Little Villa. After living in DP for 9 years, I was sad to move to the city because I was leaving the best pan pizza in the world (that could be delivered to my home).

    Thin crust--tought to beat Barnaby's (particularly the corner pieces).

  4. Can you still watch them make the pizza at Barnaby's? I grew up near the one in Villa Park - loved the pizza but also loved the fun of watching those crusts fly through the air!

  5. I like Tortorice's Pizza located
    1735 E.Central in Arl. Htgs.
    all types of crust thickness.
    Really good tasting and a good buy
    for your money.

  6. It is unfortunate that Armando's has been gone for nearly a year now. They initially said something about a new location, but we haven't heard a word since. Such an eclectic mix of Italian, Mexican, and American was probably, alas, doomed from the start, but I hope they have better success with their next venture.

    In the meantime, Giuseppe's isn't bad, or the aforementioned Little Villa. Barnabys still has the viewable pizza area.

    For extremely thin crust, you can't beat Romano's on Oakton. But if you don't like the crust thin and crunchy (yet flavorful), this is definitely not the pizza for you.

  7. Little Villa and Allegretti's are the two in Des Plaines I favor, but the Village Pizzeria in Rosemont (on Higgins) has the very best thin crust pizza in the area. Hungry ? You can get a 20" Colossal size !

    They also have a reasonably priced daily lunch buffet that is excellent and always includes pizza with a variety of toppings so you can pick your favorite, and it also includes fried dough which I haven't had done that well since Grandma went to the big ristorante' in the sky !

  8. Ugh - how sad! I was so excited about working in Des Plaines because it would be a perfect excuse to eat at Armando's frequently - and here they have closed down. Well then, I'm now even more glad to have these other recommendations - keep 'em coming, Des Plaines!

  9. Friday night is pizza night at our house and Guiseppe's in Des Plaines is our current favorite. We've been going to the restaurant for decades. It's family run and family friendly. Pizza with sausage, onion and peppers - and occasionally garlic. Or maybe bacon, pineapple, and barbeque sauce. (I know some won't consider that real pizza.)

  10. I like Giuseppe's pizza buffet, but it often ends up a little soggy if delivered. A good excuse to get out of the house.

  11. What a great topic! Here's my favorite list for every mood:

    Planning on having pizza for a children's library program- Little Villa!

    Staying in Des Plaines for dinner- Giuseppe's!

    If it's a movie night, I pickup Lou Malnati's on my way home from work.

    Quick Delivery: a local place by my home, Annetti's Pizza!

    And Barnaby's will always bring back the high school memories!

  12. A few years ago, I won a gift certificate for The Depot (1557 Ellinwood) as a summer reading club participant. Their pizza is delicious. Thin crust, perfect combination of cheese and sauce. Even more perfect is the proximity to the library.

  13. Cesar’s was my favorite pizza place. Me and my sister always had our birthday parties there. Sometimes as many as fifty people showed up for our parties and they all sang happy birthday to us. I really miss Cesar’s. My last party was at Giuseppe’s. Giuseppe’s has great pizza too! Butch delivers a pizza to our house almost every Friday from Giuseppe’s. ~ Toozer


Please feel free to post your comments and thoughts. We love to hear from you.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.