When Fox News set out to discover who was serving the best pizza in Chicago, they put together a team of three pizza experts––a world pizza eating finalist, a think-tank chef for Fruschetta pizza corporation, and a college student––to slice through the competition. The results? The trio awarded Grand Stand Pizza the winner with a score of 4.5 out of 5, beating out Chi-Town standard Nancy's Pizza. The secret might lie in the crust. Said one tester, "you could have put anything on top of that dough and it would have tasted good." Chefs roll that crust out to make thin, pan, double-crust, and stuffed pizzas then pile on classic toppings such as pepperoni, black olives, and hot giardiniera or premium toppings such as Italian beef or gold bullion. The choices don't end there, though. Along with pizza, the restaurant also serves up hearty helpings of pasta, homemade meatball sandwiches, and Italian desserts such as cannoli, tiramisu, and homemade Italian ice.
Pescatore means “Italian fisherman,” according to Vito Barbanente, Pescatore Palace's owner and chef. He lives far from any sea and seldom pulls anything out of saltwater, but having spent his life transforming catch into cuisine, he might well have earned an honorary place among the ranks of said seafarers. In his signature dish, he tops market-fresh fish of the day with a grilled medley of octopus, calamari, cuttlefish, and shrimp. He also harvests land ingredients, rounding out his seafood-rich menu with veal chops, housemade gnocchi, and metal forks instead of tridents.
For nearly a decade, the Pecoraro family has worked to keep the plates of Franklin Park citizens full. At Gianni's Ristorante & Pizzeria, their chefs prepare rustic Italian dishes from fresh ingredients, such as farfalle tossed with spring vegetables and linguine topped with shrimp or clams. They also prepare veal and chicken parmigiana style, Pompeii style with eggplant, and piccata style with lemon-wine sauce, and they whip up seafood entrees such as shrimp in a brandy-cream sauce and grilled swordfish. The oven gently toasts an array of thin-crust, stuffed-crust, and thick pan pizzas to shades of golden brown unattainable with most tanning beds.
At Cochiaro's Pizza, all pies start out as a disc of freshly-made dough. Once the dough is rolled out?customers can choose from regular, thin, or extra-thin crust pizza?, it's slathered in Cochiaro's signature sauce and crowned with whole milk cheese. Customers can then order specific toppings from an array of eight meats and 12 veggies. Of course, the cooks know that not everyone is in the mood for pizza all the time. So to satisfy this crowd, they prepare pastas, burgers, and BBQ rib tips.
Basilico Ristorante’s trio of chefs—Manuel, Mario, and Italo—have been crafting the same recipes together for more than 30 years. The recipes themselves date back 80 years, which explains the Old World tastes of the spinach- and ricotta-stuffed gnocchi and the sautéed mussels in white wine sauce. Basilico’s recipes aren’t the only Italian import. The dining room’s ceiling is comprised of canvases individually hand-painted by Italian and Spanish artists. Soft music and candlelit tables evoke the intimate atmosphere of a European café, and mirrored walls allow guests to keep an eye on henchmen from rival houses.
Cucina Biagio dispels hunger pangs with flavorful soups, salads, and hearty Italian pastas and pizzas. Ravenous appetites get a playful ribbing from starters such as the minestrone zuppa ($2.95/cup, $4.25/bowl) or the caprese salad, mozzarella flanked by loyal sidekicks tomato and red onion and dressed for digestive success in a light balsamic vinaigrette ($8.95). Fill up with the certified-Angus-beef entrees, such as the filet mignon in a red-wine mushroom sauce served with roasted potatoes and vegetables ($30.95), or bear down on a slew of wood-fired-oven pizzas, available in a variety of styles—stuffed, pan, thin-crust, and earth-crust ($10.95).