Friday, May 23, 2008

What We Eat: Pizza!



You can find edible pizza outside Chicago, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a pizza as good as even the average, run-of-the-mill Chicago pizza once you leave the outer edge of Chicagoland. Trust me. I’ve lived in central Illinois, Southern Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska, Florida, Wisconsin, D.C., North Carolina, and L.A. I’ve found some pretty good pizza in L.A. and in New York City (though, usually, I’ve been out drinking in NY by the time I end up at a place selling slices, so I’m guessing cardboard with tomato paste would probably have tasted okay by then).

As I’ve already noted here about a thousand times, I haven’t lived in Burbank since 1983, but I still get back there maybe once or twice a year, and if I’m in town for more than a day, I usually end up eating pizza somewhere in the neighborhood. Down below, I’ve listed places I either frequented or remember. Please correct locations and names if I’ve made any errors, and by all means, tell us about your favorite South Side pizzas.




Italian Villa


Italian Villa is located in Southfield Shopping, and it’s been there since at least the early or mid ‘70s, if not earlier. This is the pizza that my family ate the most, and this is where I tend to go when I’m back in town. Even when I haven’t been there for a few years at a stretch, the waitress recognizes me and, often, remembers my order. The best features of Italian Villa? For me, it’s the whole package – superb sausage; tasty sauce; excellent crust (thin but a bit chewy). Plus, there’s a blurry, enlarged photo of Pete Townsend doing the windmill to his guitar in the men’s bathroom. Also: Could the food be any cheaper?

Gino’s Pizza

If memory serves me, Gino’s was on 79th and Central. To the best of my knowledge, it wasn’t affiliated with the famous Gino’s downtown. I’m not sure why we ate here. Did my brother work here? Possibly. Anyway, our Gino’s experience was short-lived. I can’t even remember anything about it. Gino's was definitely around in the '70s, but I can't vouch for it before or after that.

Tafte’s (Tafde’s?)

I ate here only a few times, probably in the ‘70s. They were located somewhere on 87th, I believe, on the Oak Lawn side. Is that right? Not far from Central, I’m thinking. Here’s what I remember: A corn-meal crust? Yellow with holes poked through? Cracker-ey? A few years ago, I started talking to a Law professor here at Wake Forest, and we quickly discovered that we were both from Burbank, and so we started trading anecdotes. Apparently, his first job was delivering pizzas for Tafte’s (Tafde’s?). A small, small world. And if anyone knows for sure how to spell the damned name of the place, please enlighten me!

Phil’s Pizza

Phil’s was across from the Jewel on Ridgeland. I went through a brief – but intense – Phil’s stage. When I was in high school, before I could drive, my father took a roofing job in Indiana and had to stay over night while my mother was in the hospital, and so I started ordering Phil’s pizza, almost nightly, to have delivered since I couldn’t drive. (We never had pizza delivered, so this was true decadence.) I can almost remember what it tastes like, but what I remember for certain were the enormous, meatball-sized chunks of pale-colored sausage. I'll have to try it again next time in town; it'll be my first Phil's Pizza in 27 years. Oh, and if you're reading this Phil's, you can send coupons to me @ P.O. Box 7387, WFU, Winston-Salem, NC 27109. :)

Fasano’s

Fasano’s is located around 83rd and Roberts Road in Justice. This was our default pizza when we tired of Italian Villa. I haven’t had one in years, though about ten years ago, when I was living in Iowa City, buy an extra-large one, throw it in the trunk, and drive it three and a half hours home. This place was all about the toppings – tons of toppings. A good pie, as I recall. It may be the heaviest of the thin-crust pizzas on the South Side.

Durbin’s

Durbin’s is, of course, on 79th and State Road. I’ve only recently begun eating pizza at Durbin’s, and I only eat there when I’m drinking. It would never cross my mind to go there specifically for pizza, even though the pizza is pretty damned good. But give me about a dozen beers, and I’m all over the menu.

Oh, yeah. One last thing, for what it's worth: I'm a thin crust guy. There. I said it.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

How about Grassano's Pizza located at 87th and Central! Not sure if it was alive back then. Their Pizza puffs are mouth watering (and a heart attack waiting to happen).

Theresa said...

Hmmm pizza on the southside....I actually worked at Phil's pizza for the summer when I was 16. They had pretty good pizza.

Joe's Italian Villa is still good, my mom still eats there like once a week.

Though growing up I think we go pizza the most from Little Frank's next to the golden spike train shop on 79th.

Though now I say that Pequod's pizza is the best, on the northside near Clyborn and Webster, and it has to be the deep dish

Theresa said...

hah, and yea Grassano's hasn't been around for that long, but their pizza puffs were cheap and awesome!

Matt Byrne said...

Well I'm a Vito and Nick's type of guy, which John, if you're a thin crust guy, so there next time your in town, it's on 84th-ish and Pulaski, it's an older place, still has shag carpet on the walls! My wife's hands down favorite it Palermo's on 95th just east of Cicero, she likes the sweet sauce there, I have to admit, it's a close second for me.

John McNally said...

I almost -- almost -- went to Vito and Nick's the last time I was in town. I'll definitely try it next time. As for Palermo's, my good friend Joe used to bus tables there in high school and bring home pizzas, which I would dig into. I rarely went there on my own, but I would have to agree with you -- it's top-shelf pizza for the area. Absolutely.

YellowRose said...

OH GOSH, you had to go and post pictures even!! Pure torture!!

The one thing I miss is pizza, Texas does not do good pizza! :(

Italian Villa was a family favorite. So was Giordano's pizza for deep dish!

How on earth do you remember all these places?

leomemorial said...

Gino's was located @ 79th/Central only was shut down by police.
Drug Trafficking.

Officers worked undercover there only to discover a huge drug ring out of the place.

Little Joe's Pizza in Marquette Park WAS the best!!

Kelle said...

I have to agree - Grassano's Pizza rocks! I am also a fan of Rosangela's in Evergreen Park. There's nothing better than southside pizza!

cardiogenesis said...

My family loves Italian Villa.

Anonymous said...

I think it was Tafde's. The building is still there and the inside hasn't changed much. I went there alot in the 70's.

Kevin said...

While not necessarily the greatest pizza, a landmark at the time was Angie's pizza on 79th near Harlem. Almost everyone had a birthday party at one time or other there, or a party through their sports team. Classic Burbank location...

And yes, Phil's sausage was the best

Chico said...

Go to Vito Nicks! That place is GREAT!!! My favorite is still "THE VILLA"! in Southfield!

Jim "Suts" Sutera said...

I use to hang out with Tom Frangelia, whose family owned "Tafdes" and later he ran.

I have to go with Beggars for overall pizza. I still have Phil's, Italian Vizza, Barraco's and Palmerio's (by 95th and Cicero) occasionally. Old school--I worked at Romanelli's in Worth through high school and a little after (on 105th SWHWY-R.I.P.). We used to go to Angie's after football games, when they had a place by 79th and Harlem..(the original is still on Pulaski and taste the same).

Anonymous said...

Anyone who was around the Scottdale/St. Dennis neighborhood long enough knows Vito & Nick's was originally (and still referred to by old school) as Nick & Vito's.

Palermo's (not Palmerio's, Mr. Suts) on 95th and Cicero is the bomb. Fox's on Cicero and Baracco's on 95th in Evergreen Park (they also have a location in Burbank now on 87th Street) are also quite tasty.

I could get into North Side pizza joints, but that's really deviating from the topic.

I haven't heard the name "Tafde's" in a millions moons. Wow. They were quite the staple way back when.

--Christine

Marty Bach said...

Vito and Nick's was always unique because they would cut the pizza into bite-sized squares.

I was always a huge fan of an only carry-out place called Nene's Pizza Oven around 82nd and Kedzie. They always put on a great deal of cheese.

I now live in Cleveland and pizza is probably the #1 thing I miss from Chicago. If I weren't doing something else for a career, I believe opening up a south side style pizza joint out here would make an absolute killing.

P.S. As a Br. Rice grad, I also must add Barracco's on 95th Street. Perfect for a bite after the Crusaders crushed the Marist Redskins (oh, sorry Red Hawks) in football.

Anonymous said...

used to be a place called Capri a few blocks west of central on 87th street. that was my fav pizza

Jimmy D (78th & Lawler) said...

Tafde's...
Best Pizza I've ever had!I can still taste the sausage!
I remember all the pictures on the walls, and the juke box. What a treat when my parents took us there in the 70's!

Anonymous said...

Grassanos is the old Tafde's building

Anonymous said...

How can you forget Little Franks next to the Golden Spike train shop?

liz mrofka said...

I still pine for Tafde's pizza. It would be great to find someone who worked there to tell us their recipe! I've lived in Colorado for 30 years and haven't had a pizza that good since.

Anonymous said...

I've always been a pizza connoisseur, a foodie if you will, but as a child, I HATED TAFTE'S. I don't know if my tastebuds had awakened or if it just wasn't my kind of place, but when Saturday came around and I hoped to hear from my parents, "We're having Chesdan's!" or "Don't spoil your appetite for Barraco's!"....then all I got was "Well, eat a big lunch, we're having Tafte's...we love it, you hate it...but you're a kid," that was always a let-down.

Bobby said...

Gino's Pizza was in between Central and Parkside. It was run by Pete and his son Pete Jr. I did door hangers for Pete after school. I went to pick them up on my bike at Buckingham Printing and got hit by a car. I survived. I got a penny a house to deliver. It was good Pizza. I dont remember it getting busted for drugs. It later moved to 79th and Lockwood.

Conor said...

I'm from Rockford, Il originally, and the local pizza places are basically clones of the home-style southside joints. Rockford has excellent pizza... Anyway, I moved to DC 3 years ago and I think about good pizza about 3 times a week and then shed a little tear.

I actually brought some in my suitcase last time I went to see my fam in Illinois.

Anonymous said...

one of my friends from Queen of Peace used to work the phones at Phil's in the 80's. :D

i grew up next to midway so my favorite pizza will always be Villa Rosa on Archer off Lockwood. i've lived all over and there's nothing to compare to good old regular (not deep dish) Chicago pizza. and the sausage is unlike anywhere else, too. out-of-town sausage always looks like rabbit pellets to me.

-liz

Anonymous said...

Nick & Vito's is still the best thin crust around. It's still looks the same way it did in the 1960's minus the wooden telephone booth in the corner. I still go back a couple of times a year. When I wanted something a little thicker, Conte's Pizza a block down and across the street was what I preferred.

Gator

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned Capri Pizza. It was a frequent Friday night order out meal as a kid. I lived at 85th and Lorel during the mid 60's and into the late 70's. Good Italian Beef sandwiches too. Tafde's was also good.

I've been living in Phoenix AZ since 92 and I miss all the Southside food. We have Rosati's Pizza, which is the same family and recipe as the chain in Chicago. Good pizza, but its not Capri.

Shana said...

Hey Where is this pizza as shown on your site http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Myrq_jCGFQo/SDc-zXQxu-I/AAAAAAAAALk/GROVxo5ZQt8/s320/pizza.bmp

I am drooling! thanks!

TK said...

Although I lived behind the plaza with Italian Villa, I did not care for their pizza. My family thought it was too greasy. Whenever I would go in there, I'd order their meatball sandwich. Now THERE'S good eating! I still remember the handwritten sign they'd put on the entrance door in the summer back in the 70's, on which was written in black marker: "No shirt, No shoes, No come in!" LOL

Anonymous said...

Who can forget Little Franks ?? As kids in the 70's we would ride bikes in the parking lot...if we stayed long enough Frank would give us a slice of pizza but say "you godda go". Does anyone remember how much he swept the front of the store ? I think he swept all the concrete away..LOL. Also how about a place I think it was called JR's on 79th by the power lines across from Nick's..which was a Aurther Treachers...JR's had the best hotdogs around but no place to sit inside. LOL memories.

Anonymous said...

Tafdes, co-owners Tom A. Frangella, Dennis E. Sullivan ...that's how it got the weird name. It is where I had my first date (1978). Delivered pizzas there in the 90s. It seems so long ago it was like another life.

Ed said...

My cousin lived on Massassoit, so I went to Tafde's a few times in the '70's. Not bad, but Vito and Nick's was my favorite. Christmas lights and shag rug on the walls, spitball marks on the paintings from my buddy's 10th birthday in '77, and pitchers of cold Old Style. I was sorry to see a TV on the bar last time I was there. They were featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives recently on the Travel Channel. I'm definitely a Chicago thin-crust guy.

Ed said...

I worked at Tu-Kynds (named for its thin and thick crust options) at 103rd and Pulaski in high school. When it was sold, and we started making a stuffed pizza, we changed our name to Perfetti's (better than Thri-Kynds, don't you agree?) The next sale was to a man named LaMorte, who had the bad taste to change the name. LaMorte means "the death" in Italian.
I also worked briefly at Fox's in Oak Lawn, in college. Perfetti's is gone, Fox's is still there. Both were very good.
John, if you like the southwest suburbs, Vito and Nick's II is at 95th and Roberts Road, hidden in the strip mall. It's the result of an inter-family struggle among the Barraccos. Purists will argue with me, but it's just as good.

Marty Bach-- I liked Barraccos on 95th, but Perfetti's had it beaten. And I liked the Pizza Oven at 82nd and Kedzie-- after graduation, my first apartment was a basement at 84th and Kedzie.

Anonymous said...

you guys forgot to mention papa angelos on 79th and lockwood and just a pizza on archer and kolin and phils in bridgeport

Anonymous said...

You left out Pudgy's Pizza. When it first opened, he was located next to the Chinese place on Major Avenue. After Tafty's closed, Pudgy's moved over there and was there for decades.

They had THE best taco pizza in the world! Also, their "Fat Freddie" breaded steak and cole slaw was to die for.

I really miss that place...

-Batman077

Anonymous said...

I found myself going back in time reading these posts. Although I graduated from Reavis in 1970 I feel like I knew John all my life. Burbank had a lot of pizza parlors. When I workrd for Capri when I was a kid I met Dick Byondi(spelling) from WLS radio. He came to our store! It was a great time. Capri was all over the radio. The owners name was Ed. Quite a guy! I got married in 1974and moved near State Rd. and Mobile Ave. I fell in love with Phil's on Ridgeland, being so close and all) and been buying there every chance I get. I adore the Phil's Special! Now there's a pizza. I also been at Taffde's several times. I remember the male waiter. His name was Daryl and was very good at his job. Like I said, alot of good pizza places in Burbank. When you get back in Burbank John, I will buy you a Phil's Pizza and all the beer you can drink at my bar in the basement. It's the Burbank way of saying nice meeting you!I have to go for now and pick up a pizza at Phil's. I'm not kidding! Contact me at ptgdesigns@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Phils was the best. Like you, I lived all over the country and never experienced anything like Phils or Tafdes. Both were very particular about the quality of their ingredients which reflected in the prices but well worth it. Randy Johnson - Reavis class of '81