Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: Vito & Nick's Pizzeria, Chicago

Way back in the 1980s, I discovered Chicago-style deep dish pizza ... In Washington DC! We went to Armand's Chicago Style Pizza, which is a small regional chain that was started by a Jersey Boy enamored with Chicago deep dish pizza.  I remember liking it, and I remember that I struggled to eat two slices.
Vito & Nick's, Chicago. Click any pic to see full size resolution.

A few years later, I had deep dish again, at Geno's (guest review HERE) in Chicago, with a similar experience.  As the years passed, Pizzeria Uno expanded its chain operation to the east coast, and I've found their pie to be Pizza Hut grade. Since then each time I try deep dish, I like it less. Jon Stewart agrees!

Still, Chicago remains a great pizza town, and there are several thin-crust purveyors with great reputations. I haven't been to Chicago since starting this blog, and my recent pass through would have prompted a stop at Great Lake Pizza had it not closed about a year ago.
A view of the bar from the dining area

I flew into Midway, on the south side of Chicago, to then rent a car to drive south to my Bloomington destination.

There are not a lot of great pizza choices near Midway; there is an outpost of Giordano's "stuffed crust" deep dish casserole (reviewed HERE), but I was intrigued by Vito & Nick's and their thin-crust pie.

Vito & Nick's has been in business for 84 years, making pizzas (cash only, no delivery) for 58 years at the Pulaski Road location. Inside and out, V&N looks like an old style shot-and-a-beer bar, but with a number of dining tables.

Guy Fieri, of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, did a feature on Vito & Nick's - video link HERE. I'm sorry I missed out on the Italian Beef pizza.

At some point, much of the inside walls were covered in carpet (I'm guessing the 70s) but now most of that has been updated. The ambiance is simple but cozy.
The sausage pie

I arrived around 3pm on a weekday, but already a good handful of regulars were drinking at the bar. Two beers are on tap -- Old Style, and Old Style Light. Either way, it's $1.50 for a 12 ounce pilsner glass.

The menu offers, beyond pizza, sandwiches, pastas, and appetizers. I was intrigued by the Friday special of "All You Can Eat Smelts" for $9.95. 
Slices at Vito's & Nicks
For comparison, a slice at Rubino's

The pizza menu is refreshingly brief - they offer large and small in four variations: sausage, half-sausage, cheese, and cheese & eggs (Friday only). Other toppings can be added, but I took the hint and ordered a large sausage pie.
The underside

As soon as the waitress brought the pie, I recognized the wafer-thin, party-cut, Midwest style. This pie had a strong resemblance to the thin-crust pie at Rubino's in Columbus OH, another old-school pizzeria in business for over half a century (full review HERE).

The genuine Italian sausage was in lovely rough chunks, under the cheese. The sauce and cheese were spread entirely to the edges of the crust, leaving no cornicione handles. Each little rectangle was 4" long at most.

The crust had a distinct and delightful crunch, with just enough residual chewiness to assure you that it's bread, not a cracker. The sauce and cheese were pretty conventional, and rightly so for this old-school pie. They were applied in perfect proportion for the thin but sturdy crust.

The sausage was the ideal topping, adding a savory flavor and texture to each bite. Much like the pie at Rubino's in Columbus, all the elements were in perfect harmony. In fact, the Rubino's pie and the Vito & Nick's pie were quite similar, and I couldn't say if I preferred one to the other.

All told, destination pizza in a destination setting. Near perfect in flavor, texture, and balance. This is a 9.9 pizza experience. It blows away all those north side puffy casseroles masquerading as pizza.

Vito & Nick's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

  1. Glad to see you tried this one. I don't think I had a better Midwest style thin crust than the sausage pizza at Vito & Nick's.

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  2. Joe - I wish I could eat the V&N pizza side by side with Rubino's to compare. Both are wonderful. PQ

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  3. Possibly the most unattractive pizza I've seen

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  4. Lou, Pics don't do it justice. Check out the Guy Fieri clip, you get a better look on the video. I'd eat this stuff every week if I lived close by. PQ

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  5. Next time, go sausage and green olives. Adds a perfect briny compliment to the fatty porkiness of the sausage.

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  6. I love that idea - black olives on a pie are good, green probably even better. It's on my list the next time I have to Fly through Midway. Thanks!

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