Even if Gulliver's ovens went cool and the warm-weather chatter on its back patio went silent, visitors would still be drawn through the unassuming façade to witness the sights inside. Dozens of antique lamps from the 19th and early 20th centuries hang from the walls, casting a delicate light on the restaurant's cozy, wood-and-leather interior. Fortunately for hungry patrons, the kitchen continues to operate 47 years after its founding, quieting stomachs' growls with its take on Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.
After slapping a mound of their housemade dough into the pan, chefs carefully contour the crust to leave thick, chewy edges and a thin, golden bottom—a tasty compromise for lovers of thin and thick pies. Next, layers of cheese, fresh veggies, and meats such as ham and homemade sausage form a base, covered by a zesty garlic sauce that earned praise from the Chicago Reader. Thin- and stuffed-crust pizzas round out pie offerings, and a tasty cornucopia of Italian soups, sandwiches, and entrees sates pizza-averse diners.
For more than four decades, the Salerno family has been catering to peckish Chicagoans' cravings for fresh, homemade Italian cuisine. Michael Salerno's Pizzeria in Glenview continues the family tradition, specializing in Southern Italian comfort fare, as well as customizable thin- and thick-crust pizzas. The menu showcases a lip-smacking litany of authentic dishes and saucy specialties, including the seafaring linguine with mussels ($13.95) and the sautéed veal scallopini, replete with garlic, mushrooms, and onions ($16.95). Ricotta-and-mozzarella-stuffed shells with marinara or meat sauce ($10.95) provide a cheesy counterpoint to baccala, baked fillets of codfish with black olives, capers, onions, and sliced potatoes ($13.95). Meat-free diners can feast on vegetarian paninis ($7.50), and meat-loving diners can stuff maws with meatball sandwiches ($6.50). Salerno's offers dough-disk aficionados a completely personalized pizza experience, allowing diners to choose between thin and thick crust, as well as a hodgepodge of fresh toppings. Create an aromatic and amorous atmosphere with a large cheese pizza ($16.50) piled with fresh garlic, hot giardiniera, anchovies, and onions ($0.75 per topping), and conclude your meal with a sweet bite of a homemade cannoli ($2.50 each) or gelato ($3.95 for a small) before carving your initials into your significant other’s smartphone.
The menu at Big Tomato Pizza tags three distinct species of pizza pie: thin, stuffed, and Chicago-style deep dish. Diners can adorn their pies with more than a dozen toppings, including pepperoni, giardiniera, and pine nuts. To entertain pintsize taste buds, the kitchen bakes pizzas into kid-friendly shapes such as dinosaurs, teddy bears, and, since they suggest clown noses and games of ring around the rosie, circles. Stuffed pastas such as ravioli and manicotti brim with creamy cheese and a choice of five sauces, and local, organic coffee couples nicely with international desserts such as chocolate cannoli.
No Man's Land Pizza & Grill's dough spinners quell saucy appetites with crispy thin-crust pies, slinging circular comestibles for dine-in or carryout. The menu bursts with slices, fractioning pizza and providing practice for upcoming geometry tests with flavors such as buffalo chicken, hawaiian, and the NY White, which layers spinach and tomatoes atop a garlic sauce and a sprinkling of ricotta and mozzarella cheese ($14.50–$26.99 depending on size and crust). A thin crust or Sicilian-style's thick, bready base serves as a foundation for customized pizza creations ($14.99 for a 16" thin crust or a small sicilian pan, $2–$3 for each topping), decorating dough in 21 edible accessories, such as pepperoni, blue cheese, diamonds, and pineapple.
A chorus of electronic beeps sings across Kiddie Kingdom's 13,000 square feet, where more than 62 arcade games, redemption games, and small rides galvanize youthful excitement in both kids and adults. After stuffing their pockets with tokens, guests compete for high scores on modern video games and arcade classics, such as air hockey and skee-ball. These redemption-style games shower the most successful players in tickets, which can be exchanged at the King's Treasure Chest counter for small toys, stuffed animals, and sports balls.
Elsewhere, the aroma of housemade lasagna, chicken wings, and pizza tempts players away from the arcade and into the onsite Pizza King restaurant. Here, cooks hand toss dough for thin-crust, deep-dish, and stuffed pies. The Italian cuisine also delights guests in a 100-person party room, where birthday boys and girls open presents and spin a wheel to win enough tickets to send their stuffed animals to college.
At CiCi’s Pizza, patrons wander along a buffet brimming with fresh-baked pizzas, hearty pasta, crisp salads, and warm desserts. Dough spinners whip up pizza crusts from scratch every day, slathering them with vine-ripened tomato sauce or zesty white sauce before sprinkling on a coat of whole-milk mozzarella—the perfect trap for unsuspecting toppings such as ham, pineapple, Italian sausage, spinach alfredo, and macaroni and cheese. All of CiCi's offerings are free of trans fat and sad flour, including sweets such as brownies, apple pizza, and cinnamon rolls. Although pricing varies by location, many franchises offer the buffet for less than $6 per person, while inviting guests ages 2 or younger nosh for free. The pizzeria spices up its edible good works by launching community-oriented programs that range from fundraiser nights to lunch-and-learn field trips for students.