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.
Luigi's Pizza & Pasta's owner, Michael Maretick, was featured on Chicago's Best for his popular deep dish pies, which have been a local favorite for nearly 40 years. Each one starts with made-from-scratch pizza dough, then cheese, followed by a generous serving of Luigi's secret house-made sauce. Additional toppings include green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, and giardiniera, plus a pie-sized sausage patty that ensures a bite of sausage in every bite. To complement their renowned deep dish pies, Michael and his team also craft thin crust ones, too, and, upon request, they can even make an extra-thin crust pizza for fans of that style or anyone trapped inside an outgoing mail box.
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.
Paul Heatherington’s Ats A Nice Pizza serves homemade pizzas decorated with hand-braided edges. The cooks even craft specialty shaped-crusts on holidays, such as a heart for Valentine’s Day, or the entire Mount Rushmore on President’s Day. Classic pizza toppings share crust space with hot pepper juice, garlic powder, and barbecue sauce. Pasta-laden house specialties range from homemade meat lasagna to veal parmesan nestled in a pile of mostaccioli.