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.
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.
When childhood pals Michael Caringella and Armand Christopher bought Elmwood Park's Victory Tap in 1956, one of their first orders of business was determining the name of their new establishment. Michael won the deciding coin toss, but to dodge any complaints that might arise, slyly chose to dub their eatery Armand’s Victory Tap, after his coin-toss-losing partner. With Armand’s original artwork gracing the walls and Michael’s thin-crust pizza flying from the oven, the restaurant received positive reviews; and although Armand sold his portion to Mike in the 1960s, the eatery—since renamed Armand's Pizzeria—still thrives today.
City-dwellers and suburbanites alike can taste a slice of the original thin-crust pie at any of Armand's 10 locations. Though menus differ slightly at each eatery, all contain thin- or pan-crust pizzas crowned with an array of fresh toppings, ranging from ham, bacon, and pineapple to feta and kalamata olives to italian beef and spicy giardiniera. Beyond pizza, the chefs pull mozzarella mostaccioli from the oven, glaze baby back ribs with tangy barbecue sauce, and assemble hearty sandwiches from italian beef and italian sausage, the same materials that used to line the deli counter at the Roman coliseum.
Plenty has changed at Jim & Pete's since the family-owned eatery’s opening in 1941, but one thing has remained constant: the recipes. Along with a few updates and one robot line cook, chefs still depend on those time-tested formulas to craft an array of signature chicken dishes, risotto specials, and fish entrees. The restaurant also offers 20 types of pasta and 13 special sauces, including besciamella and string bean. Those combinations can be customized, as can unions between five kinds of pizza crust and 20 toppings such as sausage, anchovies, and red peppers.
Imported and domestic bottles of sparkling, white, or red wine complement meals, which unfold in a brick-walled dining room decorated with wine racks. In addition to dine-in feasts, Jim & Pete's cuisine is available for carry-out, catering, and banquets.
The chefs at Spizzico Pizza and Pasta have pizza making down to a science, cooking their famous Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas for precisely 45 minutes and only shortening the baking time by special request. Patience pays off at this pizza joint, where stuffed pizzas bake until the outside browns lightly and the cheese inside is warm and gooey, and veggie pies come adorned with such savory toppings as fresh garlic, ricotta, and artichoke hearts.
If pizza isn't your thing, though, there are plenty of other items on the menu, including a four-cheese lasagna, and linguine tossed with calamari in a homemade sauce. In addition, more than a dozen tossed salads offer fresh, flavorful alternatives or places to hide the last slice of garlic bread.
Nick’s Deli, Pizza, Roast Beef & Seafood’s sprawling menu, lauded in the Marlborough Patch, runs the gamut from dozens of themed pizzas and calzones to family-recipe roast-beef sandwiches. A steaming meatball sub stalks elusive hunger pangs with torpedoes of homemade ground meat and sonar-guided sprinklings of feta cheese, tomato, and lettuce ($5.55 for a small; $6.65 for a large). Crunchy romaine lettuce and croutons chaperone grilled chicken in the caesar-salad wrap ($6.25), and a gooey Spartan pizza sows feta, green pepper, and chicken in a tomato-laden field of dough ($9.99–$14.99), just as ancient Italian pizza farmers once sewed their fields with marinara-sauce seeds.