Jo Jo’s Pizza Review – Delavan, Wisconsin

Jo Jo's Pizza Review

Jo Jo’s Pizza Review

Jo Jo's Pizza ReviewI knew I had to be in this part of the state the other day, it’s the “lake country” of Southern Wisconsin.  I had scoped out a couple of potential pie places to visit, both old-timey, been around forever, small-town kind of pizza.  The only problem with my quest, is that the hours for both of them as shown on their website were WRONG, they didn’t open til later and I wasn’t about to hang around.

So I started down the road back to the place I was visiting in Walworth, Wisconsin, and finding nothing on the way there, except a lonely Little Caesars, and what would be the point of that, I was prepared to admit failure for the day’s pizza run.

A flash went on in what few brain cells I have left.  Did I pass a place out in the sticks that said pizza?  Or did it say BBQ? Or tacos?  I retraced my steps down the highway and came to this little place, really out in the middle of nowhere, Jo Jo’s.

I went in, perused the menu, glanced at the slices they had available to judge whether or not the pie was going to meet my usual guidelines (seemed so) and I ordered.  A 16″ thin crust sausage and green olive.

About fifteen minutes later, or less, out it came, piping hot in the box, as I juggled it carefully walking back to the car. (I have experienced in the past, doing this and the pizza ending up upside down on the parking lot). (No, that didn’t stop me from eating it).

Took a pic of the pie on the trunk, moved it to the front seat, opened my beverage, and set to work.  This pizza was made as if I have given very specific instructions as to my “likes.”

Cracker thin crust, hand-pulled flavorful sausage, tasty olives, mounds of cheese and a smattering of Italian herbs.  Perfect. I wouldn’t have objected if the sausage chunks were a little bigger, but not a complaint, really.

Wisconsin pizzas JUST TASTE BETTER.  I don’t know why.  Closer to the cheese source (humor).

Jo Jo appears to be an enterprising guy (or woman).  In addition to pizza, they have a very long menu, with sandwiches, pasta, entrees.  Out back there was parked a food truck for tacos.  Ambition.  The American dream.  Gotta love it.

Unofficial website.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo Jo’s Pizza Review

Jo Jo’s Pizza Review

Dinos Pizza and Italian Restaurant Chicago Review

Dinos Pizza and Italian Restaurant Chicago Review

The Norwood neighborhood of Chicago, just off I-90 about 12 miles west of the Loop, has become a Little Italy of sorts; I’ve counted around two dozen Italian-centric restaurants, delis, bakeries, markets. Once every couple months I make a run down there and hit two or three of my favorite establishments.

Last Saturday was no exception,  I hit Sicilia Bakery for a New Orleans style muffuletta sandwich, some fresh bread and imported cheese,   over to Rex Italian Foods, for sausage, meatballs, more cheese, before ending up at Dino’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant.  Dino’s has a very extensive menu featuring all of your Italian favorites appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees.  I’ve only had the pizza and not been back since the “before times.”

So I was delighted to stop in and grab a 16″ thin crust sausage, green olives, and double cheese thin crust pizza, square cut, which we call “tavern style” in Chicago and it’s far more popular than deep dish.  About the latter?  Some people call that “tourist pizza.”  Maybe so.

For my money (and I’m the only vote that matters here) nobody makes a finer tavern style pie in Chicago than Dino’s. Crispy crust on the outside, chewy as you move inland.  Their hand-pulled sausage is just superb in taste, texture, and size.  Sauce is flavorful but not overpowering. Cheese is the perfect amount and melt-factor.

If I’m on my own, it’ll take me 2-3 days to work through a 16″ pie.  In my “salad days” (what?) I could have polished one-off in a single sitting.

The restaurant has a few large seating areas, offers party / event catering and delivery.  Six days a week there are specials, listed here, ncluding some AYCE deals.

I’d sure like to hit some of those, but they’d rue the day I sat down for any of them!

Dino’s is just five miles east of O’Hare if you’re stuck with a long layover or are on your way downtown.

In the meantime, here’s your “objet d’ drool.”

Dinos Pizza and Italian Restaurant Chicago Review

Dino's Italian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dinos Pizza and Italian Restaurant Chicago Review

Dinos Pizza and Italian Restaurant Chicago Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Gino’s East is a downtown Chicago restaurant that specializes in one of the versions of “Chicago Deep Dish.”  They opened just off the Ginos East Frozen Pizza Reviewmagnificent mile in 1966.  They subscribe to the version that is “crust, cheese, toppings, sauce.”

Other versions  in the same segment are more focused on the amount of cheese, and can be labeled either “Deep Dish” or “Stuffed.”

Gino’s has opened other outlets around Chicagoland and out of state with mixed results.  They have, however, been very successful in capturing a sizeable portion of the frozen pizza market, both in the deep dish and thin crust categories. (Crack thin crust, square-cut pizza, often called “Tavern style” is also very popular in the Chicago area.

One aspect Gino’s is noted for is the “sausage patty” deep dish.  Instead of bits of sausage as a topping, there is a solid patty of sausage which stretches crust to crust.  Their sausage is very gently seasoned.

They use a quality cheese, with good stretch, and their tomato sauce leans towards slightly sweet and chunky.  Crust is flaky, both top and bottom.  The frozen pie weights two pounds, and I paid $5.99 for it this week.  It’s usually a bit higher.

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Festive Foods Plant

I’ve probably purchased these 4-5 times, and candidly, I’ve never had what I would call a 100% success rate with them. I can’t get them to bake evenly. They’re in the oven for 45  minutes plus, but invariably I end up with hot/cold territories, even if I spin in during cooking.

Don’t know why.

Gino’s are made by a company called “Festive Foods” (pictured) a contract manufacturer in Waupaca, WI, a town in the north-central part of the state.

If you never get to Chicago and can’t find the pies in your local grocer, you can get a five pack shipped to you, for about $25 a pie, including shipping.  That’s about the same price you’d pay at the restaurant, not including beers, tax, and tip.

 

 

 

 

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

 

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois

 

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois My heart is aching for mom and pop businesses during the 2020 pandemic. Most operate on very thin margins in ordinary circumstances, but do survive only on take out? Tough sledding.

You probably haven’t heard of “Quad Cities Style” pizza, but it’s just as unique as “New York” or “Chicago Deep Dish” as far as having its own unique niche in the pizza hierarchy.

Here the distinguishing features of “Quad Cities Style:”  Dough may have malt incorporated in it.  The sauce is usually spicier than most preparations.  Toppings all reside underneath generous, quality cheese, and finally, the pizza is cut in long strips rather than squares or slices.

The crust usually borders on “thinner,” but Slugger’s more resembles what most would refer to as “hand-tossed.” Puffy and chewy on the exterior, crispy as you work your way inland.  I’m usually in the camp of “cracker-thin,” but I genuinely enjoyed this, tho it was rather filling. He does hand toss, watched him, unusual (and welcomed!) in the day of dough shelters and pre-made crusts!

Slugger’s take an unusual approach to sausage, but many will prefer it.  They use a crumbled pork product, only very gently seasoned. There’s an absence of what is usually found in pizza sausage, namely garlic, fennel, and so on.  I didn’t miss them.

Sauce leans towards sweet, but still a bit of kick.  Black pepper?

Excellent cheese. Great flavor, great texture, great pull.

I have heard talk that there is an above-average lunch buffet but did not verify that tidbit.  Daily specials though.

Full menu.

The place is very clean.

Two sizes only, 12″ and 16″.  The latter with two toppings ran around $24, slightly less than the average in the Upper Midwest at present.

Yes, I’ll go again when I am in the area!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slugger's Pizza Incorporated Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illinois

Sluggers Pizza Review Silvis Illnois

 

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LAGabriele Bonci. He’s from Rome. Has a popular pizza place there. Set his sights on the US market, and curiously, the place he chose to debut his concept was Chicago, arguably a population that has very strong opinions about their pizza. He opened one, then another. Added New Orleans. Next up, I think I heard is Miami.

His concept is a “reinvention” of the pizza.  He’s focused on local ingredients and at any one time during the day has 12-15 different pizzas in the showcase.

You point, they point back as a way of inquiring how large of a slice you want of these rectangular pies in the display.  Give a nod, they nod, they weigh it (his pies are sold by the pound),  pay (strictly a non-cash operation, btw), they finish your selection in the oven for a few, reslice into bite-size morsels, call your name.

You fetch. You eat.

The Details

The crust is “thick” by American standards, but light and airy, resembling focaccia. The tomato sauce is pure, and the cheese is ample.  I tried two different kinds (pictured) a meatball, and onion and provolone. The latter was the better of the two.  There weren’t a whole lot of meat selections when I was in the New Orleans store.  I was opening for some spicy salami, or perhaps prosciutto, and the like.

But meatball was it, and the topping was actually bits of meatball as if they had chopped a ball into pieces or actually made them mini-ball size. The flavor was fine, but I’m of the school that cooks meatballs directly in the sauce, leaving a soft, crumbly texture.  Bonci appears to be from the meatball school of cooking separately,  baked in the oven until the outside is crispy/crunchy.  Not my thing.

Onion/provolone was boldly flavorful.  Though I missed a helping of processed pork products as we American pie eaters are used to expecting, it was quite good.

Another downside (for me)?  Kinda spendy.  As pictured,  $14 worth of pizza.

BTW, don’t be surprised to see fruit as a topping.  Beyond pineapple. Which doesn’t belong on pizza in any case.  Nor does chicken.

I spend a lot of time in Chicago and had always meant to get into his first U.S. outlet, but it’s an inconvenient location for me.  So it was just a coincidence that my introduction to Bonci (bon-chee) happened in New Orleans.

I didn’t find it exceptional enough to merit a return, especially because I have so many favorites in Chicago.  But you should try it. Especially as traveling to Italy seems to be out of the picture for the time being.

Oh yeah, if $110 + for a pizza doesn’t seem unreasonable to you,  they ship.

Locations and timesPhoto gallery.

 

Bonci Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Dinos Pizza Review – NW Suburban Chicago Illinois

Dinos Pizza Review - NW Suburban Chicago Illinois

Dinos Pizza Review – NW Suburban Chicago Illinois

Dinos Pizza Review - NW Suburban Chicago IllinoisThere still exists a “Little Italy” near downtown Chicago, but there’s not much Italian left to it, ‘cept or a once a year weekend festival. No, for me, Chicago’s “Little Italy” is more likely to be found around Harlem Avenue, south of I-90, in the NW suburbs of Norwood Park, Norridge, and Harwood Heights.

Got to be more pizza joints per square mile than anywhere else in Chicago.  I’m counting 16, and that’s not including the Italian deli/groceries,  of which there are several.

I’ve made the journey to the delis before, notably (reviews) “Nottoli” and “Rex.”  If I was forced to choose one or the other to patronize the rest of my life, it would be a very close call, but “Rex” would win out.  They have fewer groceries than Nottoli, but more hot “to go” meals, and for me, their meatballs are way ahead of Nottoli’s.

All that being said, there are 16 pizza places to check out, and one, in particular, I’ve wanted to hit for a long time.  Officially named “Dino’s Italian Restaurant” I suspect most patrons go for the pizza.  They have been around for over 60 years and that’s always a plus for me.

I ordered to take-out, but the joint was bustling for a post lunchtime Saturday afternoon, and it was one of those places where everyone seems to know each other. (“Hi, Norm!”).

Servers were affable, eager to please, and knew how to do their jobs.

The interior is homey and ‘neighborhood-y.’  Boy, I am making up the words today.

The Pizza

On to the pizza. I fully realize every person has their own preferences for pizza, and in Chicago, we have so many choices. Thick crust, deep dish, stuffed crust, double crust, pan,  sausage crust, no crust, and the one I prefer, a thin crust referred to in many local establishments as “tavern-style.”

Using Italian pastry/pizza flour (many places use regular flour, which for me, doesn’t give a great outcome, the ideal thin crust pizza sports a crust that is cracker-like, but not flakey.

It has some good “chew” to it, and because tavern-style pizza is cut in squares instead of triangular slices, there’s no “hang,” that is, the cheese and toppings aren’t going to slide off your slice when you pick it up.

Dinos Pizza Review - NW Suburban Chicago Illinois

16″ thin crust pizza with sausage

For my taste, Dino’s is perfect.

A medium application of flavorful tomato sauce, not too much, not to skimpy, and it tastes like (surprise!) tomatoes!  Too often pizza joints use sauce that has corn syrup solids as fill, and it becomes ultra-sweet – if it’s your thing, find, it’s just not for me.

Ample cheese, real cheese, again, not the kind blended with fillers.  Nice stretch, great taste, well melted.

Finally, the topping.  I went simple, Italian sausage.  Fantastic.  Hand-pulled chunks of sausage with fennel and garlic, great texture, nice size, not those god-awful preformed sausage pellets so many places use.

I bought the pizza to take home, a 40 minute drive, laid it carefully in the back area of the SUV. Thought I’d just sneak a peek before driving off. Damn, the aroma.  Ok, maybe one slice before I go.

Back in the driver’s seat, slice devoured, “Ok, maybe just one more.”

Managed some self-restraint after that second slice and drove away.  OK, I managed for about ten minutes.  Then another ten minutes.  A stop for a cola. Then another ten minutes.  And by the time I pulled into my driveway, the massive, 16-inch pie I had purchased has shrunk by half.  Oops.

Dino’s Italian Restaurant has a very lengthy menu that includes appetizers,  sandwiches, salads, soups, pasta, chicken dinners, fish, ribs, veal, steak and dessert.  You can see it online here, or there is the pizza page below.

Heck yes I will return. But next time I’ll know well enough to get one for the ride, one for home!

 

Dinos Pizza Review - NW Suburban Chicago Illinois

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dino's Italian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Dinos Pizza Review – NW Suburban Chicago Illinois

Dinos Pizza Review – NW Suburban Chicago Illinois

Franks Quad Cities Style Pizza Review – Silvis, IL

Franks Quad Cities Style Pizza Review

Franks Quad Cities Style Pizza Review

Frank’s Club Napoli Pizzeria, in Silvis, IL (part of Rock Island area) is purported to have created “Quad Cities Style” pizza. Never heard of it? Me neither, until a couple years ago, and I lived there for two years back in the day! What’s different about Quad Cities Style Pizza? The crust uses malt as an ingredient, it’s relatively flat but the edges are puffy and crispy. Tomato sauce has a little bit of kick from cayenne and red chili flakes. Toppings are under the cheese, (and there’s a boatload of cheese) and if you opt for a sausage pie, the sausage is crumbled, not chunks. Finally, no triangles or squares on this baby, the pie is sliced into strips.

Characteristics of this style of pizza include a pizza crust made with malt, tomato sauce sometimes made with cayenne and red chili flakes, toppings placed under the cheese, and strips being cut instead of slices.

So here’s the thing. Ordered half sausage, half pepperoni, glass of Old Style (of course), and I COULD NOT STOP EATING IT.  Wanted so desperately to take some home.  Finally pushed myself away from the table so I could get a few slices out of there.

People don’t go to Frank’s for ambiance. They go for the pizza (and some for pasta).  They were doing a fairly brisk business even at a weekend lunch.

I loved it. Serious.  Top three on my list.   Just off I-80 if you’re traveling on Main Street USA.  Cash only.

Here’s a link to their website.

Frank's Club Napoli Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Franks Quad Cities Style Pizza Review

Bootleggers Pizza Review, Biloxi, MS

Bootleggers Pizza Biloxi Mississippi

Bootleggers Pizza Review, Biloxi, MS

Bootleggers Pizza Review, Biloxi, MSBootlegger’s Pizza in Biloxi, Mississippi touts themselves as the home of authentic Chicago thin-crust pizza. As I live in Chicago part time, naturally I had to check it out.

The downstairs of the facility is for ‘family’ dine-in experiences from their full menu featuring pizza, pasta, wings, burgers and sammiches.  Weekdays they feature lunch specials.

Upstairs they have a 21+ room, with likker, music,  and games.

I went to place an order to carry out, take back to the hotel. I ordered a 14″  “Big Al’s Supreme” – which includes sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, onions, black olives.

It was done quickly, and after decades of pizza take-out orders, I still haven’t learned to open the box before leaving the joint. They either skipped some ingredients or I got someone else’s pie

Not going to hold it against them, because they do indeed do a good job of emulating a Chicago thin crust pie (which we refer to as “tavern style” – made with a cracker thin crust and cut in squares, not slices).

Bootleggers crust makes the grade, so does their cheese, and sausage for flavor and texture.  Sauce is a little bit sweet for my taste, but that didn’t stop me from eating the entire pie. Personal preference?  Larger chunks of sausage, please.

If you’re a regular reader, you know my “true test” of a great pizza is how it tastes the next morning after being left out on the counter over night. And Bootleggers passes the test, bigly. Yuge.

I’m in Biloxi a few times a year.  I’ll be back for another pie for sure.

Bootleggers Pizza. Dine in. Carry out. Delivery.

Bootleggers Pizza Review, Biloxi, MS

Bootleggers Old Chicago Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bootleggers Pizza Review, Biloxi, MS
Bootleggers Pizza Review, Biloxi, MS

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

 

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

Champion Frozen Pizza ReviewChampion Pizza is a frozen pizza line started in 1981 in the microdot town of Hebron (Illinois, not Palestine).

Like many frozen pizzas in the Upper Midwest, they got their start supplying to restaurants and bars before landing shelf space in regional grocery stores. They also supply products for charitable fund raisers.

About their product, they say “We pride ourselves on using only the freshest ingredients that include our own hand made pizza sauce, freshly grated
mozzarella cheese and fresh raw italian sausage, not a precooked nugget.”

You can look in the window of their “factory” – the times I have, there has only been one person making pies. They boast about making nine different varieties in two sizes.

Surprisingly, you can’t buy the pizzas direct, but you can pick some up at the gas station at the end of the block, underneath the towns sole blinking red light.

The gas station is directly across the street from the Dari, local fast food establishment (reviewed), and across the other street from “Beaners” Mexican restaurant. (Hey, I just report, you decide).

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

Packaging. Cello wrapped on cardboard

Champion is in the “value pricing segment” of frozen pizzas, clocking in at around $5 for their large, single topping pie.

The crust is cracker thin, but never quite gets to cracker crispness, except for the edges. Not sure why. Even experimented with more time than the instructions stated.

The cheese person must have been out the day my pie was made.

It’s quality cheese but doesn’t run out to the edges, and unwrapping this pie, the paper stuck to the top, and some of the cheese was a little melted, so this baby must have thawed somewhere along the line and then was refrozen.

The hand pulled chunks are good. Good flavor, good texture. Smattering of herbs.

Will I add this to my go-to list of frozen pizzas. Nah. But good for them that a small operation can make a go in a segment where two global players have about a 90% share of the market, right?

And locals seem to like it a lot.

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the package

 

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

14 mins at 425

 

 

 

Champion Frozen Pizza Review Champion Frozen Pizza Review

La Pizza Via Review – Fox River Grove, IL

La Pizza Via Review

La Pizza Via Review

Where else can you go that offers nearly every regional type of pizza from across the country??? La Pizza Via has NY/New Haven thin crust, Pan pizza with a thicker crust, baked in a square.

Of course Chicago’s favorite, cracker thin, cut in squares (many people call it “tavern style).” And what I went for, “Detroit style” which is a square pie, a focaccia like crust, caramelized edges, thick but very airy, cheese and toppings over that, then a few ladles of tomato sauce across the top.

I find fault with none of it. It’s a hearty, thick tomato sauce from one of the country’s premier suppliers to pizzerias. Hand pulled chunks of Italian sausage, flavorful, great texture.

Really nice pepperoni, no cupping or charring, and a great cheese blend. (If you want to win me over forever, add thick sliced “Sicilian” (marinated, herbed) green olives!

The shop has an order at the counter arrangement, but an attached dining room. Pastas, calzones, stuffed breads, sandwiches and snacks fill out the menu. Daily specials. Daily slices.

It’s gonna cost you less than Chicago’s regional chains, by 15-20% in my experience.

The Detroit takes about 15 minutes in the oven.  They are open seven days and deliver using some of the third party services.

If you’re from Detroit, this will more than satisfy your cravings, and you won’t have to go home and suffer through your relatives company just to get a slice.

Great product. Nice people. I hope they have great success  Full menu.

La Pizza Via Review

Detroit Style Sausage and Pepperoni

La Pizza Via Review

Properly caramelized crust

 

 

 

La Pizza Via Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
La Pizza Via Review

La Pizza Via Review

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