Chicago Street Pizza's dough artists pile crusts with enormous helpings of fresh, tasty meats, melted cheeses, and a garden's worth of vegetables. Ten distinctive specialty pies, such as the Chicago Monster pizza, load up with canadian bacon, ground beef, fresh basil, and barbecue sauce, creating disks that work equally well as hearty meals or frisbees. As chefs prepare Italian eats, they ensure the juiciness of the beef sandwiches, the crispness of calzones, and the tang in the sauce-slathered pastas.
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn’t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, “Put pizza in it.”
Today, Gino’s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
Couple Michael and Dora Sutcliffe proudly oversee a family staff inside their bustling mom-and-pop pizzeria. New York–style pies are made fresh and roll out of the oven crowned with toppings such as fresh veggies, barbecue chicken, italian sausage, and giardiniera, and homemade chicken tenders, garlic knots and sweet cinnamon knots complete family-size feasts. Delivery agents ferry pizzas, sodas, and mostaccioli with speed and aplomb.
Executive Chef Richard Mancini—formerly the executive chef of Gibsons Steakhouse—oversees a menu of delectably stacked dough discs and hearty Mediterranean fare. Ambitious epicureans can strip a kebob skewer of savory chicken parmesan ($7) before tooth-slaying the artichoke-hearted minotaurs and olive-eyed gorgons of the feta-cheesed mediterranean pizza ($23). Lego lovers can transfer their skills to the dinner table by building their own pasta dish or pizza, piling eclectic toppings ($1.75–$2.50) atop an array of crusts, including honey thin ($12–$19), pan ($13–$21), and stuffed ($17–$22). Veggie-laden soups and salads round out full-fledged feasts, while a children's menu caters to mini mouths and 8-inch nostrils with options such as mac 'n' cheese and 8-inch pizzas (both $5, including beverage).