I've got to do a Best Pizza list of pizza places, similar to my Best Burgers list that is still one of the most popular entries on Road Tips. If I ever do a Best Pizza list, Vito and Nick's on the south side of Chicago would be in my top three. When Cindy and I were in Chicago on our extended weekend this past summer, we met up with my niece, Amanda, who was in town for business. Although we were downtown and Amanda was staying on the far south side, we decided to get together at Vito and Nick's to expose Amanda to world-class pizza.
I first wrote about my visit to Vito and Nick's over three years ago in this entry on Road Tips. I also wrote this entry from early 2009 that included a video when the Food Network's Guy Fieri visited a couple three years ago. That entry was after I took Cindy to Vito and Nick's for the first time. The pizza that night wasn't as good as my first visit, but the service that evening was a lot better than the service I received on my initial visit.
It turned out on my first visit to the older waitress I had dealing with me was Lee Musso, also affectionately known to the thousands who have gone to Vito and Nick's over the years as "Aunt Lee". Lee Musso is the sister of the late Nick Barraco, the longtime owner of Vito and Nick's, and the daughter of original founder Vito Barraco. Stooped over and still waiting tables after decades of working in the family restaurant, after I found out who she was, I quickly gave her a pass for the poor service I received from her on my first visit.
It was a 30 plus minute ride out to Vito and Nick's on south Pulaski (see map) from our hotel in downtown Chicago. If it hadn't been for the fact that Amanda was in town and was willing to drive 30 minutes up from the far south side we probably wouldn't have ventured out to Vito and Nick's that evening. But I love to turn people on to great places that we've visited in the past and this was going to be a treat for not only Amanda, but for Cindy and me, as well.
Amanda had just pulled up in the parking lot as we got there and we all went in. There was no wait, thankfully, for that Thursday evening. We took a booth along the wall and looked quickly at the menus knowing full well that we were going to get a beer. Also, thankfully, we had a younger waitress help us out even though Aunt Lee was moving slowly about the dining area. Nothing against Aunt Lee, she's just a little slow. But, God love her, she's may be slow, but she's still moving.
We decided to get a couple large pizzas - a sausage, pepperoni and mushroom, primarily for Amanda and me; and a sausage, pepperoni and garlic pizza primarily for Cindy. Although, Amanda and I both reserved the right to grab some slices of the pizza. I ordered a Bud Light, then I remembered that Vito and Nick's had Old Style on tap for something like $1.50 a glass. The waitress said, "Why don't you just get a pitcher? It's five bucks and you'll get more beer." She must have known that I was going to drink more than one beer.
The pizza came out and we were ready to dig in. Above left is the sausage/pepperoni/mushroom pizza, above right is the sausage/pepperoni/garlic pizza. Cindy couldn't contain herself and took one of the corner pieces of the second pizza before I could get a snapshot. The thin crust pizza was cut into party cuts and had that great consistency of not too brittle, yet not too soggy.
Here's Amanda thoroughly enjoying a slice of Vito and Nick's pizza. She was ecstatic about two minutes into the meal. "This is AWESOME pizza, you guys," she exclaimed. "Thanks so much for meeting me here!"
The sausage at Vito and Nick's is top notch with a little bit of a fennel taste and a little bit of a spicy bite to it. The garlic was strong, but it didn't take away from the overall taste of the pizza. The combination of the toppings, caramelized cheese and Vito and Nick's homemade pizza sauce makes their pizzas some of the best I've ever had.
We couldn't finish both of the pizzas, but we made considerable dents in both of them. We were amazed at how much we did eat between three people. But much like Salerno's on Grand in downtown Chicago, the pizza is so great that you just can't stop eating. Cindy thinks it's the cheese they use at both Vito and Nick's and Salerno's that makes it taste so wonderful.
Here's a picture of the kitchen area with Aunt Lee in the foreground. This kitchen has produced tens of thousands - no, make that HUNDREDS of thousands of pizzas over the years. The old gas ovens are completely seasoned and that is a big plus in the taste of each and every pizza that comes out this kitchen.
We've found that it's best to go to Vito and Nick's when it's not too busy. While the wait for a table on the weekend can be over an hour, during the week it's not too bad to get in and get seated. The pizza is consistently better when they aren't as busy. As I said, this is world-class pizza and I'm really glad my niece got to enjoy it and report back to her husband, my sister and brother-in-law and her friends what they were missing out on. If you truly love pizza and you're ever in the Chicago area, I cannot recommend Vito and Nick's strongly enough. It's a wonderful treat to eat at Vito and Nick's.