When most people think of Chicago-style pizza, they probably imagine a dense, deep-dish pie weighed down by an inches-thick layer of cheese. But the chefs at Nicolo's Pizza point to a different definition offered up by famed Chicago film critic Roger Ebert. In an interview with Vanity Fair , Ebert estimated that as much as 85 percent of Chicago's pizza is built upon a thin crust, and that what really sets the city's pies apart is the homemade sauces and crusts cooked up by Chicago's abundant Italian population.
That's exactly the type of Chicago-style pizza that Nicolo's has been dishing up for more than 30 years, using recipes born generations ago in Italy. Each thin or hand-rolled crust is made fresh every day, topped with a choice of sauce such as traditional red, alfredo, or garlicky extra virgin olive oil, then baked in an authentic stone-bottom oven. Patrons can choose their own ingredients––which range from artichoke hearts to green chilies––or choose one of the shop's specialties such as Buffalo Pie, a ranch-based pizza topped with chicken, celery, carrots, and mozzarella, or the Besto Pesto with Chicken, featuring chicken, black olives, artichoke hearts, and provolone cheese with a pesto sauce. Beyond the pizza pan, chefs painstakingly assemble layers of fresh noodles, ricotta, and sauce into classic meaty or vegetarian lasagna and slather chicken wings in a variety of sauces, including pomegranate chipotle and thai peanut.
Drawing from a supply of imported Greek ingredients and familiar Old-World recipes, Bucci's Greek & Italian Specialties' chefs forge a menu of homey Mediterranean cuisine that calls to mind visions of the old world’s tastiest traditions. Homemade tzatziki sauce crowns gyros stuffed with roasted beef and lamb or baked chicken, and the spanakopita's carefully assembled layers of spinach, feta, and phyllo pastry bake to a perfectly golden brown. These ingredients even influence the Italian specialties, creating pizzas with distinctive toppings of spinach, black olives, and feta or gyro meat, tomatoes, and onions. However, entrees such as the spicy sausage ravioli and the baked ziti maintain their hearty Italian roots by following the time-honored recipes first published in the Aeneid's appendices.
A trim of decorative vines circles the dining area, alluding to the trellises of Greek and Italian vineyards, and adding a verdant splash of color to the cherry-red walls and their framed artwork. A faux-stone archway separates the front and back halves of the room, and nearby potted plants add even more greenery to the space.
Before an audience of excited patrons and supporting cast of bloody marys, wine, and imported and domestic bottles, 10 domestic and handcrafted brews dive from taps into chilly glasses. A menu of pub grub complements the adult libations with classic burgers, Mexican favorites such as tacos and enchiladas, and Italian delights including grinders, pizza, and pasta. Fatigued golfers and complacent dry cleaners grow alert at the sight of the Pueblo Slopper, in which green or red chili and shredded cheese ooze over a thick cheeseburger and crisp fries. A covered patio in back shields diners from hot sunbeams, while the front side of the grill boasts outdoor seating that's open to seagull serenades. Flat-screen televisions peppered throughout the space flicker with sports match-ups, and nightly events—such as live music on Fridays and Saturdays and karaoke on Wednesday nights—help customers stay on key without having to eat with a tuning fork.
When guests enter Luigi's Italian Restaurant, they're greeted with the scents of baked pasta, meatloaf, lamb shanks, and minestrone. Chefs prepare each margherita pizza and prosciutto-stuffed chicken with fresh cheeses, meats, produce, and spices, presenting each meal amid the charmingly familiar decor of red-checkered tablecloths, a darkly stained wood bar, and the saltshaker from your grandmother's kitchen. Diners clink glasses of rich Italian wine over plates of italian meatloaf and eggplant parmesan or order offsite catering for their parties and banquets. Occasionally, the restaurant also hosts events, such as a New Year's Eve bash set to live jazz.