Venturing out from my hotel near O'Hare International Airport in Chicago one evening, I was on the hunt for someplace new to eat. One place that I've seen and always wondered about is a pizza place on Higgins Road where the Cumberland North off ramp from the Kennedy Freeway ends up - D'Agostino's Pizza and Pub. I decided to give that place a try that night.
It turned out that D'Agostino's is a small chain of five pizzerias in and around the greater Chicagoland area. It began in 1968 when Joe D'Agostino and his wife, Jan, opened their first pizzeria in the Wrigleyville neighborhood just down the street from Wrigley Field. It suddenly became a hoppin' place before and after Chicago Cubs games with many of those fans coming back to "Dag's" during the off-season.
Along with his son's, Jeff and Scott, Joe D'Agostino thought it would be good if they expanded their reach with new locations. A second D'Agostino's was open in Chicago's River West neighborhood on N. Ogden, while a third location soon came in Glenview, IL near the Glen Town Center shopping and entertainment district. Scott ran the River West location and Joe ran the Glenview D'Agostino's. In 2010, D'Agostino's opened their Park Ridge location; and in 2012, the family opened their fifth pizza place in far north suburban Wheeling in a building along Milwaukee Ave. that had previously housed one of the Hackney's locations in the Chicago area.
It was after 8 p.m. when I pulled into the parking lot at D'Agostino's Park Ridge location. (see map) The restaurant was about half-full with a few people sitting out on an enclosed patio and others in the main dining room. I opted for a booth in the well-lit main dining room that featured a small gauge train set that orbited on a suspended shelf along the perimeter of the dining room.
My server for the evening, Tyler, came over to see if I wanted anything to drink while I looked through the menu. I ordered up a Bud Light and took a look at what they had to offer. Not long after Tyler walked away to get my beer, I looked up and saw that they had Lagunitas India Pale Ale on tap. It was too late - he was bringing back the Bud Light in a tall frosty glass.
D'Agostino's is supposedly famous for their thin crust pizza, but they also offered Chicago-style deep dish and stuffed pizzas, as well. In addition to their pizza selections, D'Agostino's also features pasta dishes, sandwiches and burgers, appetizers and salads, and barbecued ribs, as well as broasted or grilled chicken.
I was up for a thin crust pizza, so I ordered my standard Italian sausage, pepperoni and mushroom. Tyler said he'd get it right out. And it didn't take long - about 15 minutes after I ordered he brought my personal (10") pizza to the table. And this time, I ordered up the Lagunitas IPA to go along with it.
The pizza had the thin crust that is firm, but not too crispy - the kind I like. It featured chunks of Italian sausage, lots of pepperoni slices and a fair amount of sliced fresh mushrooms. After letting it cool down a bit - and Tyler bringing me my Lagunitas IPA - I took my first bite of a D'Agostino's pizza.
And, you know, it was good. It probably wasn't the most outstanding thin crust pizza I've had - definitely not in the Chicago area - but the sausage had a little bite to the taste, the pepperoni was salty and also had a good spiciness, and the mushrooms had a very good fresh taste and good consistency. It was well better than average and I thought they acquitted themselves very well.
My first experience at a D'Agostino's won't be my last, especially if I get a hankering for pizza and don't want to venture too far from my hotel near O'Hare. The place was clean, Tyler did a good job of taking care of me, and the pizza was a B+ pizza. I can easily see why D'Agostino's has been around for 45 years. They make a fine pizza.