Category Archives: Chicago

Barone’s Pizza & Restaurant Carpentersville, IL


Throughout the Chicago suburbs you will find numerous places with the name Barone’s Pizza. We chose to eat at the Carpentersville location, but I am honestly not sure if this may or may not be part of a small local chain. There are no indication(s) online or elsewhere the joints are connected, and we forgot to ask.

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 calmed down version, vinyl-table clothed restaurant on the left.


Nancy’s Stuffed Pizza Chicago

nancyspizza.jpgI decided to revisit Nancy’s Pizzeria, a Chicagoland pizzeria favorite, after going many years without eating its famous stuffed pizza. The main difference between stuffed pizza and deep dish pizza is the layer of cheese is much thicker in the stuffed pizza than the deep dish pizza. And boy, can you ever taste that cheese difference with Nancy’s pizza. Unfortunately, part of the reason why you notice the cheese so profoundly is because of its icky texture. I despise how difficult it is to chew Nancy’s cheese–I felt myself choking at least 3 times. The rest of the pizza was decent; the pizza sauce and crust were in good symmetry and the sausage topping was fresh but unremarkable.

But you want to know the worst part about ordering stuffed pizza from Nancy’s? The price: it cost me $20 for a small stuffed pizza that fed 2 people! Actually, let me give credit when it is due. After hearing how horrified I was to learn the price when ordering the stuffed pizza on the phone, I was offered a buy-1-pizza-get-1 free deal. The problem was the pizza wasn’t good enough to eat a 2nd time.

The menu proclaims that Nancy’s pizza has been named “The Best Stuffed Pizza in Chicago” by ABC-TV. I don’t how long ago that assertion was made because I’ve certainly tasted better stuffed pizza lately. As always, when I have a less-than-satisfactory pizza-eating experience, I ask the readers: do you agree with my review, or have you had a much-better pizza eating experience than the one I described? Sound off below.

Nancy’s Pizza in Chicago gets 4 out of 8 slices.

You can follow Martha on Twitter @examinerchicago and us @worstpizza

Panino’s Pizza Park Ridge Chicago

paninos.jpgI have been bored by thin crust pizza. There, I admitted it. I have found pizza’s deeper dish brother to be far more exciting as of late. Deep dish pizza has so much more flavor, depth, and fulfillment…but also so many more calories. I craved a hot piece of pizza the other night, but I knew the right thing to do was to placate myself less sinfully with thin crust. I hedged my bets on a new pizza place in Park Ridge called Paninos.


A Native Chicagoan’s Review of Lou Malnati’s

lou_malnatti.jpgloumalnatti.jpgChicagoans have all heard of the following pizza places: Gino’s East, Giordano’s, Home Run Inn, Lou Malnati’s, and Pizzeria Uno. Chicagoans also usually run a gamut of opinions on each of these respectively or sometimes have the same collective opinion that these are all “commercial” chain pizza restaurants that don’t reflect how good Chicago pizza can get. I can respect that and sometimes I feel the same way. But last night I had Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza, and it was one of the best I have had in awhile. (more…)

Sapore di Napoli Pizza Chicago

sapore_di_napoliIn my pizza-eating travels around Chicago, I have had many slices of Chicago thin crust, stuffed, deep dish, and even New York-style pizza. I haven’t eaten much Neapolitan pizza, so I figured I would eat at one of the best-ranked Neapolitan pizzas in town, Sapore di Naploli.

Sapore di Napoli is a regular on Time Out Chicago and Chicago magazine’s top-ranked pizza places. It is also a BYOB restaurant in Lakeview, which probably helps its popularity. But Chicago pizza eaters should keep in mind that Neapolitan pizza is different than most pizza we are accustomed to. Authentic Neapolitan pizza should be made of the San Marzano tomato and milk from the water buffalo. The pizza tends to be thin, has a chewy dough, and is known for its fragrant ingredients. I’m not sure how authentic Sapore di Napoli’s Neapolitan pizzas are, but they definitely fulfill the fragrant requirement. The ingredients are incredibly fresh; the Salsiccia pizza’s Italian sausage was homemade and tasted incredible, and the mushrooms from the Funghi pizza were more complementary to the pizza than any pizza I can remember eating. The Margherita pizza was ranked best in town by Chicago magazine, so you might choose to evaluate the restaurant by its known dish. I was pleased by my Neapolitan pizza-eating experience, and the restaurant is clean, comfortable, and a good place to have dinner and a bottle of wine on a warm summer’s night. The pizzas are personal and are in the $12-$15 range. There is street parking available that is metered. The ambiance and experience move me to want to visit Sapore di Napoli again, but I feel fine with waiting until next summer to do it. Visit Sapore di Napoli on 1406 Belmont and check out its site for more details.

I will give them 6 out of 8 slices

You can follow Martha on Twitter: @examinerchicago

and you can follow us on Twitter: @worstpizza

Giordano’s Pizza Chicago

giordanos.jpgWhen visitors come into town, they usually want try some “famous” Chicago pizza. From what I’ve noticed, these famous Chicago pizzas usually include Pizzeria Uno, Gino’s East, and Giordano’s. As a native Chicago pizza snob, I have been trained to scoff at these brands.  However, there are various reasons why these joints have garnered legendary status—some of it involves pure historical benevolence (aka, being at the right place at the right time) while some of it involves the quality of their pizza. I put aside my snobbery for a night and put on my impartial hat at Giordono’s.
Pizza eaters know that if you’re ordering a deep dish or stuffed pizza to expect at least a 45-minute wait. Well, on this busy Friday night, we certainly waited the full 45 minutes (and then some) for our pizza. It would have been a much easier wait if they had remembered our appetizers, but I digress. Giordono’s has simple décor with their standard checked tablecloths and booths, but its simplicity has an air of coziness. As a former Giordano’s waitress, however, I know that they don’t hire the world’s most experienced servers—in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if serving at Giordano’s  was many of their servers’ first food service gig. The lack of quality of wait staff can be a deterrence on busy nights, but don’t let that begrudge you from trying their stuffed pizza. Yes, there is a reason why Giordano’s has stayed so popular for all of these years, and it is because of their appetizing, cheesy pizza. The cheese layer is thicker than the tomato layer, as is expected with stuffed pizza, and the crust is pleasant to eat with a nice crunch. The ingredients are unremarkable but usually pretty fresh.  The price is pretty standard with a 12-inch stuffed pizza hovering around the $20 mark. Is it Chicago’s finest pizza? No. Is it a stuffed pizza that non-native Chicagoans should feel comfortable trying? Yes, absolutely—as long as they know that outside of this chain with over 20 accessible Chicagoland locations, there are other stuffed pizzas more worthy of trying—if they are lucky enough to be in the neighborhood to try them.

Giordano’s Pizza gets 5 out of 8 slices

You can follow us on Twitter @worstpizza and you can follow Martha @examinerchicago.  Her column is also published

Best Stuffed Pizza at Stefano’s in Chicago

stefanos.jpgChicago is known for its deep dish pizza—perhaps a lesser known but just as incredible pizza, is stuffed pizza, Chicago’s deep dish variation.

I ate one of Chicago’s best stuffed pizzas yesterday. I had Stefano’s stuffed special. The layer of cheese was as thick and gooey as expected. Each bite consisted of mouthwatering part-mozzarella, part-parmesan cheese and fresh toppings. The green pepper and onions were delectably crisp and the sausage was aromatically tasty. The sauce was a little thicker than expected with chunks of tomato—it didn’t personally bother me, but I can understand if someone wasn’t a fan of that. The price and timing were great too. Unlike certain deep dish places that take at least an hour or later to cook you a pizza (ahem, Gino’s East), this pizza was brought out in 45 minutes. For a medium stuffed pizza, it cost right around $20, and there were plenty of leftovers for the next day.

This Chicago stuffed pizza gem is located in charming Lincoln Square on 2124 Lawrence Avenue. Parking is found right around the corner on the north end of Lawrence.

Stefano’s stuffed pizza in Chicago gets 7 out of 8 slices

Uncle Dan’s Pizza Chicago Double Decker Pizza

uncle-dan.jpgAfter hearing about Uncle Dan’s “double-decker pizza” from a friend, I decided it was imperative that I check this pizza pub out. Located in Park Ridge on 27 South Northwest Highway 847.698.9800, where La Tasca (the tapas restaurant) once resided, I was amused at the difference in its prior décor. To put in simply, Uncle Dan’s looks like Potbelly’s.