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 whom their new establishment would be named after. In the end Michael won the deciding coin toss and, to dodge any complaints that might arise, slyly chose to dub their eatery Armand’s Victory Tap. With Armand’s original artwork gracing the walls and Michael’s decadent thin-crust pizza flying from the oven, the restaurant received far more compliments than criticisms; 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 fresh-baked mozzarella mostaccioli from the oven, glaze baby back ribs with tangy barbecue sauce, and assemble hearty sandwiches from italian beef, italian sausage, and genuine italian leather.
This cozy eatery isn’t really a diner, a drive-in, or a dive, but that didn’t stop its celebrated italian-beef pizza pie from being featured on the Food Network show of the same name. Cooks craft that superstar’s mozzarella and pepper-topped crust to order alongside other thin, deep-dish, or double-dough pizzas, and they form round meatballs and shape-shifting alfredo sauces in-house. Servers descend upon red-checkered tabletops with plates of juicy half-pound burgers or classic spaghetti, and they proffer glasses of wine and other liquid libations from the full bar.
The mealmakers at Luigi's Pizza & Pasta create made-to-order pastas, pizzas, salads and more. Spark feast fires with an assortment of zesty appetizers, including breaded calamari rings ($8.95), cream-cheese jalapeño poppers ($5.95), and breaded cheese ravioli ($5.95). Because eating from the same plate is a sign of friendship and trust that no one at your table has poisonous appendages, the antipasto salad flexes its meaty muscles for multiple mouths ($5.99 serves 1–2, $9.95 serves 3–4) with a heap of romaine lettuce, genoa salami, ham, mozzarella cheese, black olives, tomatoes, pepperoncini, red onions and italian dressing. Noodled conglomerations weave fresh meat and sautéed vegetables into their edible tapestry, as exemplified by the fettuccini alfredo primavera, with sautéed red peppers, carrots, broccoli and peas ($10.95), or the tortellini alfredo carbonara, with sautéed mushrooms, peas and canadian bacon ($10.95).
For nearly four decades, the Benedetto family has hand tossed, sauced, and sprinkled authentic Italian pies and pastas, creating a menu of traditional family recipes. Munch on crisp thin-crust pizza ($11.95 medium, $1.70 each additional topping) or gobble a doughy disk of Chicago-style deep dish ($13.25 medium, $1.70 each additional topping), both of which don dough that the Benedetto's staff makes fresh daily. Specialty pies ($16.75 medium) include piquant pesto, vegetarian, and meat classic—a mound of sausage, pepperoni, bacon, and salami securely sealed with melted mozzarella and an intricate system of alarms. Dizzy cutlery with a plate of spaghetti bathed in marinara or meat sauce ($6.95) or spurn silverware for a juicy Italian beef sandwich ($5.95) or a slab of barbecued ribs ($17.95).
In the four decades since the first Papa Saverio’s opened its doors, the pizzeria has expanded to more than 20 locations but stayed true to the family recipes its founders brought from Italy. As a tribute to their long paddle across the Atlantic, a Venetian gondola wraps around the pizzeria’s logo; though the boat’s five-pronged prow has become its signature of sorts, it’s Saverio’s oven-baked pies that continue to earn the eatery new fans. Guests can choose from a menu of specialty pizzas or create their own from more than 25 toppings and five crusts, including a double-stuffed crust that nearly bursts with melted cheese. Chefs also churn out Italian classics, such as calzones, family-size pasta dishes, house-specialty ribs, and fried chicken. Lest anyone question the Italian origins of the latter two items, the pizzeria serves each with a buttery garlic breadstick.
Giovan's Restaurant & Pizzeria piles tables high with fish-, chicken-, and steak-infused entrees, house-made pastas, protein-packed sandwiches, and a 28-inch party pizza that feeds 10–15 people or 1.5 party units. The eatery's exposed-brick bar and neutral-hued walls surround lunch and dinner patrons, and those at home can peruse a catering menu.