Following in the footsteps of their father, the three Coli brothers aim to capture the flavors and traditions of classic Chicago cuisine with their slate of hearty comfort fare. Backed by a team of chefs, they forge Georgio's Chicago Pizzeria and Pub’s trademark deep-dish pizzas from a more than 60-year-old recipe, kept hidden to preserve its authenticity and hand-model-caliber hands. The hefty pies, along with their crispy thin-crust cohorts, were declared the best pizza in McHenry County by readers of the Northwest Herald, and helped the eatery garner a slot on Pizza Today magazine’s list of the Hot 100 Independent pizzerias in 2011. The brothers complement their acclaimed creations with a roster of pasta and sandwiches, dished up amid a sleek, upscale sports-bar atmosphere. Both locations are decked out in flat-screen TVs and reclaimed exposed brick.. The comfortable environs regularly play host to fundraisers and events, such as dinners that pair the Coli brothers’ prize-winning pizzas with a lineup of craft beers on tap.
Originally opened in 1998, Papa Saverio’s Pizzeria now operates out of more than 20 locations spread across the Midwest. Each location uses 40-year-old family recipes to build a menu of italian-beef sandwiches, pastas, and create-your-own or specialty pizzas sprinkled with the restaurant’s own blend of cheeses and more than 20 toppings. Five varieties of crust thickness range from crispy thin to stuffed, which folds cheese, toppings, and a personalized fortune between two layers of crust crowned with a swirl of homemade pizza sauce. The kitchen’s rotating deck oven ensures consistent cooking throughout each pizza, calzone, and baked pasta dish.
Jimano's Pizzeria's deft dough-tossers craft homemade crusts, succulent sauces, and pies layered with fresh ingredients for an oven-fresh menu of Chicago-style pizzas. Top a thin-crust cheese pizza ($15.80 for a 16") or piñata-pack a pan-baked deep-dish cheese pizza ($17.95 for a 16") with a panoply of ingredients, such as pepperoni, mushrooms, bacon, or pineapple ($2.10 per ingredient for a 16" pizza), ensuring that modest pizzas don't have to arrive at the table undressed. Cooks also create stacked delights such as the italian beef ($5.85) or the crispy buffalo chicken sandwich ($5.99); baby back ribs ($16.99 for a full slab, $14.99 for a half slab) offer carnivorous sustenance coated in a homemade St. Louis–style barbecue sauce. The pizzeria's famed bread sticks ($3.99) satisfy carb cravings alongside a slew of pasta dishes, which arrive with sides of saucy banter and cheesy dialogue.
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.”
Though the rest is history, it wasn’t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn’t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
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.
When Eshticken Pizza co-owner Dalia went on a low-carb diet, she found herself craving pizza, so the team started experimenting. After years of tweaking—and enlisting the help of pizza maker and former Egyptian actor Mohamed Aly—the crust was ready. Eshticken Pizza opened in January 2012, and it has been dishing up carb-free crust along with regular-flour pizzas ever since. Its unique recipe has caught the eye of Chicago Magazine as well as the Daily Herald, which hailed the carb-free crust as "a pleasant surprise and what really sets the place apart."
Cooks hand toss each pizza crust and calzone, then toss them inside a brick oven to bake. Using fresh, high-quality ingredients, they top each baked pie according to the diner’s preferences. The staff also hand ties their dough to make garlic knots, slow simmers fat-free lentil soup, and tosses orecchiette pasta with creamy tomato-pesto sauce. For dessert, they use a family recipe passed down over the years to create Mama Haam's rice pudding.