Since my visit last summer, I've been telling as many people who will listen to me about how great the pizza is at Vito and Nick's Pizzeria on the south side of Chicago. I took Cindy into Chicago last weekend for a long-planned, but never executed shopping trip. My main plan was to go downtown and then head out to Vito and Nick's for a pizza before heading home.
Well, little did I know that Vito and Nick's had recently been featured on The Food Network's program "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" hosted by Guy Fieri (right). I like "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives", but I can only take so much of the bombastic and overly-energetic Fieri. The show had originally been broadcast on January 12 and since then Vito and Nick's has seen a tremendous uptick in business - especially in take-out orders.
We got to Vito and Nick's last Saturday night around 6:45 p.m. and the place was packed. It was a 30 minute wait to get a table and another hour wait to get a pizza. Cindy deftly found a seat at the bar and I sidled up behind her to wait for our table to open. We got to talking to the bartender and he said that since the airing of the segment on Vito and Nick's their take-out pizza has been soaring through the roof. He said, "We've got an hour backlog on pizzas because of all the take-out orders. That kind of sucks for our regulars who come in here and have to wait for their pizzas."
I asked if the crowd was bigger than normal and he said, "No, I wouldn't say so. We normally have a 30 to 45 minute wait about this time on Saturday night. But it's very uncommon for us to be backed up for up to an hour on pizzas."
I said, "Well, I guess that's a good problem to have."
He suggested we order our pizza at the bar, then it would be ready for us sooner after we sat down. So we got a menu and ordered a 14" sausage and pepperoni. The people next to us were ordering an Italian beef with giardiniera pizza. I sort of cringed when I heard that, but Cindy thought it would be pretty good. She said, "We ought to order one to go to take home with us."
We finally did get a seat and it was about 20 minutes later when our pizza showed up. Now, I told Cindy before the meal came that I was fearful that our pizza wouldn't be right because it was so busy. When the pizza came out, it appeared to be overcooked. Cindy didn't think so and dug in. I have to say that even though it wasn't as good as it was when I was in last summer, it was still pretty damn good.
When we sat down around 7:30 (a lot longer than a 30 minute wait), we immediately ordered a small Italian beef with giardiniera. We figured it would take an hour. Well, it took an hour and ten minutes. It didn't get to our table until 8:40. I had promised Cindy that we'd stop at a Trader Joe's on the way out of town, but they close at 9:00 p.m. in the suburbs. And I didn't feel like driving back downtown where the Trader Joe's close at 10 p.m. To make Cindy happy - which is always my goal in life - we ended up spending the night in Chicago, with no change of clothes, no toiletries, nothing, just so we could get up in the morning and hit Trader Joe's on the way out of town when they opened at 9 a.m.
That meant we had to put the pizza in the small fridge in the room overnight. The next day, we got home and Cindy warmed up a few pieces. It's definitely not very good when it's warmed up.
Well, it turned out that Guy Fieri's visit to the Vito and Nick's experience on The Food Network was going to be re-broadcast on Sunday afternoon. I recorded the episode and edited the footage. Here's the segment:
I really want to go back to Vito and Nick's when it's not so busy. I know I had a much better pizza when I was there last summer. Sometimes extreme success spoils a good business. While I don't think this will be the case for Vito and Nick's, I'm waiting for all the hoopla to settle down.
By the way, we had better service from our waitress on this trip to Vito and Nick's, but she was still in her 70's and moving rather slow. And the big reminder - don't forget to bring cash as Vito and Nick's doesn't take credit cards.