Rosati’s Pizza's history dates back to the early 1900s, when a recent Italian immigrant named Ferdinand Rosati moved from New York to Chicago with the dream of opening a restaurant. His first attempt was modest—with Ferdinand simultaneously fulfilling the duties of chef, server, dishwasher, and host—but quickly gained popularity for its crispy-thin-crust pizzas, originally served as complimentary appetizers. Encouraged by the public's response to the pies, Ferdinand and his son, Sam, decided to focus their efforts on opening a true pizzeria.
Today, at Rosati's Pizza locations across the country, plumes of heat swirl above piping-hot pies concocted from handmade sauce and dough. A smattering of toppings cling to five crust options—crispy thin, double dough, Chicago-style, pan, and superstuffed—as well as hide from their hungry predators inside hand-rolled calzones. Homemade lasagna and fettuccine alfredo battle for the top pasta spot, and fried chicken, baby back ribs, and fried-shrimp dinners work together to distract diners from hard-to-resist buffalo wings.
Joseph and Efren Boglio grew up in a Northern Italian town near Torino, raised by a mother locally renowned for her cooking abilities. Although the brothers loved the double-crusted, ricotta-stuffed pizza that she made every Easter, it wasn't until they moved across the ocean to Chicago that they realized just how special it was. Unable to find an equivalent after eating their way through local pizzerias and hunting pizzas in the wild, they opened Giordano's in 1974 with the goal of recreating the savory pie from their childhood. They've adapted their style over the years, but the concept has stayed the same: thick layers of mozzarella submerged in rich tomato sauce and served in a shallow bowl of golden dough. Diners can add ingredients such as spinach, sausage, or shrimp. Even though the Giordano’s deep-dish empire has expanded to Florida, its menu retains its old-country stamp with cuisine such as juicy italian beef and housemade meatballs.
Five minutes is enough for the chefs at Pronto Pizza Kitchen to hand you a pizza fresh from their ovens. But despite the speed of delivery, these aren't pre-fab pizzas. Instead, chefs create custom pies as folks call out their choice of crust, sauce, meat, veggies, and cheese and watch the whole thing come together. Chefs then slide the resulting pies into ovens, where the heat coaxes out the flavor of toppings as diverse as pesto sauce with meatballs or olive oil with vegan cheese and hot giardenera. This customization not only allows for countless variations, but also for gluten-free options. And it is not only pizzas that chef's customize. They also toss together build-your-own salads using fresh romaine, the shop's fresh veggies, and a choice of dressings.
An Italian native, Tonino's owner has shown the casual eatery’s chefs the ins and outs of Italian cuisine for more than 30 years. Panzerotto—the house specialty—is a baked or deep-fried pizza turnover headlining the menu, which also includes thin- and thick-crust pizzas that cradle sauce forged from fresh garlic, olive oil, and basil. Noodles such as orecchiette and ravioli anchor pasta dinners, and fillings such as Italian sausage and chicken parmigiana nestle inside sandwiches. A flurry of seasonings crash-land onto grilled calamari, which diners can wash down with beer and cocktails from the full bar.
Luigi Davino founded the original Pompei bakery more than a century ago, and its reins have passed down through successive generations ever since. Today, Pompei’s Orland Park incarnation still draws upon age-old family recipes to transform fresh ingredients into hearty pastas, Napolian-style square pizzas, and hot subs. Beneath the restaurant's signature striped awnings and yellow walls lies a dining room filled with wood-paneled walls and black-and-white family photos and a kitchen filled with daily-made sauces and the chefs who conjure them from hand-pressed olive oil and space dust.
Since its first pizza went into the oven in 1961, Palermo's has been crafting Italian favorites from scratch with recipes passed down through the generations. The restaurant's pizza makers blanket pies in the classic flavors of homemade italian sausage and pepperoni, or glean inspiration from other dishes in Chicago-style beef or barbecue-chicken pizzas. Meanwhile, other Italian staples—all of which are also available for takeout and catering—fill out the menu with such classics as chicken parmesan and penne primavera.