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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Pizza’

Jimanos Pizza Review – Chicago / Denver

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Jimano's Pizza ReviewJimano’s is a mini-chain based out of suburban Chicago; they started in 1997, have about a dozen locations and have started franchising.  Their first Denver, CO location was named the best pizza in the city by a local television station after only four months of operation.  They have the requisite Chicago accompaniments on the menu, including Italian beef and other sandwiches, hot appetizers, salads, ribs, and pasta.  They offer both dine in and delivery, catering, and most locations offer online ordering.  They have their own app to facility your order.

They state that they have a commitment to using the highest quality  ingredients.  They offer a daily special which is quite economical – for instance on Monday you can get a 16″ pie with up to five toppings for $16.99, and that can result in a savings of 25% or more.

I took advantage of the Monday special, stopped in a store, ordered, and waited 10 minutes or so for the pie to be done.  The store employs a ‘carousel’ type oven, which I had heard of, but not seen.  With multiple decks revolving like a ferris wheel, running off gas or electricity, carousels let you pack a whole lot of baking capacity into a small footprint.

Jimano’s thin crust pie was great.  The cracker thin crust has a hint of cornmeal, the pork sausage was very flavorful, the sauce was not overpowering, and the cheese in a unique blend.  A heavy dose of herbs finishes off the pie.

If I  lived in the Chicago area, Jimano’s would be one of my regular go-to pizzas, for sure.  Locator. Menu below (click on for larger image).

Jimanos Pizza Review

Thin Crust Sausage & Olive

Jimano Pizza Review

Exterior – Fox River Grover, Illinois

Jimano's Pizza Menu

Jimano's Pizza Menu
Jimano's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
Jimanos Pizza Review

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Lou Malnatis Frozen Pizza Review

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lousLou Malnati, and his father Rudy, managed Pizzeria Uno, one of the first outlets for “Chicago Deep Dish” pizza. Although Uno (now Uno Chicago Grill) claims to have invented the pie, local food historians give the credit to Rudy.

Lou and his wife Jean opened the first Lou Malnati’s in 1971, in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood. The rest is history, and the company now boasts 40 shops in the Chicago area and ships frozen pizzas nationwide.

The main difference between “Chicago deep dish” and similar pies in other parts of the country, is that in Chicago, the tomato sauce goes on top; many restaurants that offer a deep dish sausage pack the bottom of the crust with a blanket of cheese, then the sausage (or whatever you choose) and then  the sauce.

No matter which restaurant you chose to patronize (Malnati’s, Uno, Gino’s or local mom and pops) be prepared to wait for your dinner, as it takes awhile to cook up these pizzas.

I reviewed Gino’s frozen a couple years ago, and another Chicago deep dish, Edwardos,  so a follow up with Malnati’s seems like a good idea.  Baking instructions call for 425 and 35-40 minutes for the sausage pie.   There’s a slight variance in the directions than you (we) are probably use to:  “remove pizza from pan, wipe off any condensation that has formed, lightly oil pan (I used spray) and return pie to pan prior to placing in oven.”

After 40  minutes, I took this beauty out.  In appearance, it closely resembles its restaurant cousin.  It’s about 1 1/2″ deep, 9″ across, and weighs 24 ounces.  I paid $12.99,  ( @ .54 ounce) which is probably more that you will see it most groceries, I was in an “up market” store.   At a Malnati’s restaurant, the same pie will set you back about the same amount.  A large sausage goes for $20.25 at the time of this posting.

I’m really pleased with the end result;  this is one of the more flavorful frozen pizzas I have encountered.  Many people don’t understand that a “Chicago deep dish” is a THIN crust pizza, and is deep due to the ingredients.  The crust was appropriately crispy, the cheese has really nice “pull,” the pie is wall to wall with the sausage, and the (chunky) tomato ‘sauce’ just pops with flavor.

When you look at the ingredient list, there aren’t any of those words you can’t pronounce or have no idea what they are. Example, the sausage is pork, salt, and spices.  I’d do it again.

According to the packaging, these pies are made at USDA factory number 18498, at 3054 S. Kildare Ave., Chicago, which is apparently owned and operated by Home Run Inn pizza for their frozen pie operation. (factory pics below) HRI makes one of my favorite frozen thin crust pizzas.

If you’re rolling into Chicagoland, and want to hit a Malnati’s restaurant, you’ll find them here (note, some locations are carryout/delivery only).

Lou Malnati's Frozen Pizza Review

Lou Malnati's Frozen Pizza Review

Out of package, before oven

 

Lou Malnatis Review

Back of Factory

Lou Malnatis Review

Front of factory abuts an HRI location

Lou Malnatis Frozen Pizza Review

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Sals Pizza Coupons

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Sal’s Pizza Coupons

Here are some Sal’s Pizza Coupons from Algonquin, IL.   I love Sal’s.   The coupons were a mail item, but they do not say whether or not they accept anything but originals.  Should be ok.  If they are not, it’s not my fault. LOL . Click on image for full size.  Sal’s Review.  Sal’s Menu.

Sals Pizza Coupons Algonquin

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Barrington, IL – Sergios Pizza Review

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Sergios Barrington ReivewSome years ago, we relocated from Los Angeles to this Norman Rockwellian idyllic Chicago suburb. It was for our daughter’s benefit, we wanted her to have a great education in a safe environment, and grow up with midwestern values. For the most part, it was a successful move. At the time, after local exploration, (and my previous choice burning down, not my fault), my “go to” pizza became the thin crust at Sergio’s. They’ve moved a couple times since then, and changed owners, but they are still grinding out great pies for the past thirty years.

Passing through the burbs this summer, on a mission to look at some horses for sale, it was appropriate to re-sample Sergio’s, and see how my memory compared to reality.  While most people identify Chicago with “Deep Dish Pizza” (except Jon Stewart), the thin crust pies are really excellent, cracker crusts, mounds of real cheese, excellent sausage, and square cut.

This is the 16 incher. They have larger, smaller, thick crust and stuffed – a full menu of other goodies, too, sandwiches, ‘cue,  pasta, salads, and small bites.

Sergio’s crust is flaky, the sizable  hand-pulled sausage chunks are flavorful, and the pie has spectacularly high quality cheese.  You’ll also notice a distinctive difference with the tomato sauce; all of their sauces are made in house, and the pizza sauce is very hearty with a full tomato flavor.

Another upside with Sergio’s is they charge 15-20% less than local competitors.  A welcome respite.

Here’s the Sergio’s menu.  Got a craving or miss Chicago foods?  Here are some companies that ship pizzas, dogs, and more.

Sergios Pizza Barrington Review

 

Sergio's Pizza on Urbanspoon
Sergios Pizza Review

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Pizza Sizes Keep Growing!

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Basil's Pizza Northfield

Northfield, MN – Used to be “Bill’s”

Pizza Sizes Keeping Pace Or Causing American Waistline Growth??

Back in my day, there were two sizes of pies at most pizzerias, small and large, and due to commonly available industry tools, they were 12” and 14” in diameter, respectively.

At some point, “personal sized’ pizzas, generally 6” or 8” were made available, as a way for pizza joints to capture the lunch and snack market, at a lower price point. It also enabled some operations to have ‘ready-to-go’ takeaway pizzas always ready.

Now, it’s quite common to see larger pizzas, I regularly spot 16”, 18”, and even 20” pies. That’s a lot of pizza, and a lot of dough — the money kind. At most ‘mom and pop’ pizzerias I frequent, a “large” (14” or 15”) will run to $25 or more, making it awfully tough to compete with national chains offering LTO deals like $5 or 2 for $12.

The largest regularly available pizza in the US has been at the Big Mamas and Papas mini chain (20 locations) in Los Angeles. A square pie, measuring 4′ 6” square, rings the cash register at $199.99 plus tax. This is for a cheese pie, naturally. Additional toppings? $15 each! And yes, they can be delivered. They claim is that it serves “70.” On the ‘regular’ menu, the pies top out at 36.” (about $50.)

There are a number of pizza places in the US that regularly offer 42”, 50”, and 60” diameter pies, but even the largest 60” is 2827 square inches of cheesy deliciousness, whereas the Big Mamas  monster is nearly 3000 square inches. So if you’re contemplating, the 60” round is a better deal.  I think I deserve one for my birthday.  Robin?  To the pizza mobile!

In college, my go to pizza was at  a place named “Bills,” and in fact it was the only place in town for the first couple years of school. It’s still around, but under a different name, (pic at left) and I stopped by last year and enjoyed the pies just as much as I had four decades earlier. (AND……they were less than $15 for a large!)

On a “good” night back then, I could damned near put away two large (14”) all by myself. I don’t know what’s changed (certainly not my love for a great pie), but today a large will last me at least two days, if not longer.

Today I mis-ordered, and got an 18 incher, which was $15 but only because I had a $10 coupon. It’ll take me a few days to work through this beauty….with pleasure….  Wanna have some Chicago style pizzas delivered to your door?  Or other Chicago food?  Do it!

 

Giant Pizza

18″ of Cheesy, Sausagey Goodness!

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza Sizes

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Reggios Pizza Review

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Reggios Microwave Pizza ReviewI’m reluctant to try almost any freezer pizza that says it can be microwaved.  Just never works out, in my opinion.  But Reggio’s is one of my favorite frozen brands, and the individual sized were on an endcap and on sale, so I thought I’d give one a whirl.   I’ve tried the size before, but in  a conventional oven, as I am likely to do, given the option.  The results were satisfactory.

Two things that food producers have so far failed to master, one is microwavable pizza, the other is “crispness” on deep fried products.  The Reggio’s pie includes one of those “specialized” baking surfaces (within the box)  which is supposed to amp up the crisp factor.  In the base of this product, you remove from the box and the cello, and slide the frozen pizza back into the box for its minute or so in the nuke-a-torium.

I wasn’t very happy with the result.  While the familiar taste of a Reggio’s pie was there, and the interior portion was adequate, the crust rim was rock hard, and part of the pie was left in the box.  It doesn’t appear there is any easy way to get the pie out of the ‘cooking chamber box’ intact.

As with most products that give you the option of conventional oven or microwave, despite the time needed and energy consumption, I always recommend using your oven.  In the case of this pizza, the upside results would have been two fold:  1) even crust baking, and  2) better appearance.

Reggios Microwave Pizza Review

Baked, and out of the box

 

Reggios Microwave Pizza Review

What Was Left in the Box

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Frozen Edwardos Natural Pizza Review

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Edwardo's Natural Frozen PizzaThe relative new kid on the block in Chicago pizzerias, Edwardos has been cooking up their special ‘stuffed’ pizzas since 1978 from multiple locations in the Chicago area. They are also available in the frozen food section at your grocery, or you can have them shipped.

Despite the massive publicity Chicago pizza received courtesy of Jon Stewart (video below), there remains some confusion among locals, not to mention tourists, as to what exactly Chicago pizza is.  Is it deep dish?  Pan?  Double crust? Stuffed? Thin Crust? The truth is, they are all Chicago pizzas.

 

Edwardo’s version is deep, AND stuffed.  With a thin layer of crust on the bottom, topped with cheese, or cheese and meat, or cheese and sauce, and then another thin layer of crust, with sauce on the TOP.  That’s right.  It’s a Chicago thing with the deeper pizzas, sauce on the top.

At the grocery, you’re going to pay $7 plus for the small, which will easily feed two or three.  At the restaurant, about $20.  By mail, $25 plus shipping.

I opted for the sausage kind.   There are some Chicago pizzerias that make a blanket of sausage on the pie, it covers from rim to rim.  Edwardos goes with chunks of flavorful Italian, on the cheese layer.

The crust is buttery, as many Chicago pizzas are. It has a nice flaky quality, too. The cheese is tremendous, ample quantity, great flavor, and great “pull.”   Sauce is ample and fairly mild, leaning more ‘sweet’ than ‘savory.’

The pie takes around 30 minutes in a 425 oven, and you should let it set for a few before slicing.

I’ve taken a look at most every frozen Chicago pizza, including  Connies, Reggios, Home Run Inn, Vito and Nicks, Ginos, and others.  While Vito and Nicks remains my favorite thin crust, having pushed past Home Run Inn this year, this one, Edwardo’s Natural, is the first ‘deep dish’ I’ve found that is worth buying and consuming.  I’ll do it again.  Going to one of the shops?  Here’s the menu.

Edwardo's Natural Frozen Pizza Review

Frozen, Prior to Baking

 

 

Edwardo's Natural Frozen Pizza Review

Hot Slice!

 

Edwardos Natural Pizza

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Huntley, IL – Luigis Pizza Review

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20140504_084624(August 2015 Update:  Luigi’s is now a branch of Sal’s Pizza, in Algonquin. See Sal’s reviews). Spoiler alert: Luigi’s pizza is spectacular. If you’d prefer to stop reading now and head directly to the restaurant, that’s ok with me. Actually located closer to Rockford, IL than Chicago, the village of Huntley, once a bucolic rural town surrounded by dairy farms, has become a burgeoning suburb of the Windy City; so burgeoning that it will in the near future, get its own commuter train.

Before the farmers started selling out to development companies, long before the commuter train was even imagined, Luigi’s Pizza and Restaurant was serving the good folks of the village, every Tuesday through Sunday, with classic American style pizza and a full menu that includes pasta, sandwiches, and daily specials.

I was meeting some pals at this family owned and operated restaurant; walking up to it, I wondered if a 6PM time on a Friday was a bad idea, but there were a couple of tables still open.  The restaurant has seating for  – perhaps thirty, with room for a few more at the bar.

The table was attended to by one of the owner’s daughters, and she was both affable and diligent in her work.  The food came out as ordered, and in the right order, with only the pizza taking a bit of time, maybe 25 minutes.

I could find no fault with the pizza as my personal tastes go. Cracker crisp crust, tangy tomato sauce, really, really excellent cheese in copious quantities, and a perfectly seasoned, hand pulled fennel laced Italian sausage.

This may be the best thin crust pizza in Chicago land, and is worth a drive to Huntley, even if you aren’t bound for the town’s annual Turkey Testicle Festival!   The full menu is in our menu section.

Luigis Pizza Huntley

 

luigi map

Luigis Pizza on Urbanspoon



 

Luigis Pizza Review

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Carpentersville, IL – Barones Restaurant and Pizza Review

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Barone's Restaurant and PizzaThis may or may not be part of a small local chain;  there are a number of establishments in the Chicago suburbs with the same name, but no indication(s) online or elsewhere the joints are connected.

This particular location, in the far Northwestern suburb of Carpentersville, is located in a small strip mall, set well back from the nearby main drag (Illinois 25), and you’re not likely to see it if you’re not looking for it, or unless you’re a regular. There are two sides to the business, a full boisterous bar with seating and service on the right, and a sedate, vinyl-table clothed restaurant on the left.

Judging from mentions of the restaurant on other sites, this place has been here at least 25 years. The restaurant does a booming take out and delivery business, with a very complete menu of dinners, sandwiches, pizza, and nightly specials. On a Thursday nite, at the dinner hour, the bar was packed and the dining room deserted.   Guess which I opted for?

Meals are served complete – with a complimentary bread basket, soup or salad.  The Thursday special was fried chicken, four good sized pieces on the plate, with a choice of fries, smash or baked.  The salad was ample, the soup Minestrone.

The thin crust pizza is priced 10-20 % less than other independents in the area, which surprised me, because Barone’s really piles on the cheese (the equivalent of double at other pie shops), and used a hand-pulled, flavorful, Italian sausage in good sized pieces. The crust is typical of “Chicago thin,”  not cracker-like, but crispy and flaky at the same time. Sauce was flavorful without being overbearing. I like sliced green olives on my pizzas on occasion, and it seems like Barone’s uses my favorite kind, a “Sicilian style.”

Service was perfunctory.  The menu states to allow 25 minutes for  pizza, so there’s been no oven update in that kitchen in the past few decades.  But that’s ok.  It was worth waiting for, and if I lived in the Chicago ‘burbs, this would be my new go to place.

And my always “ultimate test” of how is it the next morning, cold?  As Mr. Burns would say, “Excellent.”

Barone's Restaurant and Pizza

Complimentary Bread Basket

 

 

Barone's Restaurant and Pizza

Sausage and olive pie

Barone's Restaurant & Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

Barones Restaurant and Pizza Review

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Doreens Pizza Review

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Doreen's Pizza ReviewChecking out another Chicago area frozen pizza, Doreen’s started as a small pizzeria on the South side of Chicago; several locations later and a new state of the art plant in Calumet City, the pies are now distributed across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and are also available at the plant store.

Boasting “pizzeria taste” from a home-baked pie, Doreen’s plops a solid half pound of cheese on every pizza; quality Italian sausage is fresh, and not those pre-cooked food service crumbles.  Like so many Upper Midwest pizza success stories, Doreen’s frozen biz began with the company selling pies to local bars.

Instructions call for center shelf, 450, 14-17 minutes, with a three minute rest before slicing (good advice for any frozen pie).  The crust is a good bakery style, a little thicker than ‘traditional Chicago thin crust’, the sauce is mild, the cheese is ample and has nice pull. I liked the pepperoni because it has a nice little bit of kick. The hand pulled sausage could be a little bigger for my taste, and while it is clearly pure pork, it’s mildness will have some wishing for a touch of fennel and/or garlic.

It’s a little higher priced than comparable products, but the hand-made quality makes it a strong value.

Doreen's Frozen Pizza

Unbaked

 

Doreen's Frozen Pizza

After 15 minutes at 450

 

 

 

 

 

 

doreens pizza review

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