This is the blog and public record of the Chicago Pizza Club. We eat a lot of pizza and share our thoughts on it as well as post any relevant pizza news we come across.

We invite you to post any comments on anywhere you have eaten under our review of that establishment. If you have any questions, please read the FAQs on the sidebar first to see if it has already been answered. Please note that we are at capacity and are not seeking new members. And finally, if you have a place you think we should try, have some other inquiry, or want to send us love/hatemail then please contact us at:


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fornello's [Meeting #49]

1011 W. Irving Park Rd (GoogleMaps)
(773) 404-2210

CPC invaded Fornello's on 12/18/2007.

Don't listen to what Rachel Ray might tell you about this place. The pizza is mediocre and the service is poor. The high prices reflect that either the proprietors don't know this, or they thought we would not notice. We noticed. We are the Chicago Freaking Pizza Club! Didn't they see our t-shirts?

We ventured out to Fornello's on a very cold night for the last meeting of 2007. Fornello's is an Italian restaurant that offers a variety of pizzas in addition to standard Italian fare. It is situated along Irving Park Road in a good-sized space with big open windows facing the street. Above the front entrance is an enormous banner quoting Rachel Ray's proclamation that they have the best pizza in Chicago. Inside, the restaurant is occupied by white furniture, and features light-colored murals along the walls. The main restaurant was mostly empty, and they seated us in a private nook in the back of the restaurant.

Fornello's offers a few kinds of pizza, and we decided to try their pizza specialty - the thin crust pizzas from their brick oven. We ordered three different gourmet pizzas:

  • Capricciosa: artichokes, black olives, capers, mushrooms, and mozzarella
  • Quattro Stagioni: mozzarella, prosciutto ham, artichokes, mushrooms
  • Quattro Formaggi: mozzarella, asiago, provolone, romano
The standard size of the gourmet pizzas is 10 inches, and they were mostly $12.95 at that size. You can make each pizza 12, 14, or 16 inches for an additional cost.

The ingredients on all the pizzas were fresh, but the capricciosa and the quattro stagioni tasted pretty much the same aside from the capers. The main reason for this is that the "prosciutto ham" was not prosciutto by any stretch of the imagination. Prosciutto is a dried, cured ham that is sliced thin for serving. The ham on our pizza consisted of bland chunks of light pink meat that resembled the packs of styrovac Canadian Bacon sold at big grocery stores next to the string cheese. It was almost unnoticeable amidst the other ingredients. This was such an egregious misrepresentation (and a mistake for a place that tries to present authentic Italian ingredients) that I have to wonder if they just ran out of prosciutto and made a substitution without telling us.

Nevertheless, the four-cheese pizza was well-received. The texture and flavor of the cheese combination was very good, and it would probably lead to a return visit if I lived in the neighborhood.

The crust is not as thin as the Neopolitan-type pizza we thought we might be getting. It was pretty bland, but stayed firm during dinner and with leftovers the next day. The pizzas did not have much sauce, and they did have a generous amount of cheese, but (aside from the four-cheese pizza) there was nothing special about the mozzarella on the pizzas. Overall, nothing aside from the prosciutto was bad, but we were disappointed with the pizza.

Although we are here to judge the pizza, I must note that the service let us down. First, we were not sure how thin these thin crust pizzas were, and so we asked for a recommendation as to the sizes we should get to feed five moderately hungry people. Our server told us to get all three pizzas in their extra large size for an additional cost of $9 per pizza. We followed his suggestion, and we had more than twice as much pizza as we needed. As a result, we ended up with what I believe was the largest per person bill in pizza club history, though we had not even ordered drinks. We did, however, get leftovers.

Also, though after 30 minutes they brought pizza stands out and told us the pizza would be out shortly, it actually took them nearly an hour from the time of our order to bring our pizzas to the table. We were not given an explanation for the delay, though we ordered thin crust pizzas and there was only one other occupied table in the restaurant.

Petey gives Fornello's 5.325/10.

Looks promising inside...

Serve it up...

Four Cheeses will never let you down...

Tardy, but happy to eat!


Where it went down...

Il Fornello on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Vito & Nick's Pizzeria [Meeting #48; Meeting #1 Revisited]

Vito & Nick's Pizzeria
8433 S. Pulaski Rd. (Google Maps)
(773) 735-2050

Pizza Club was found in 2003 when my then-roommate and I had a chat about pizza in Chicago. We are both essentially life-long Chicagoans and have enjoyed many a fine pizza, but we understood we had probably missed so many great places along the way as well. He pulled out an article from one of the local papers where someone had submitted a top ten list of pizzerias. We had already tried most of them, but Nick and Vito’s caught our eye because we hadn’t heard of it and because it was on the South Side. We figured that like most things, anything on the South Side was bound to be better than its North Side counterpart and we headed off to battle rush hour traffic. In retrospect, this was one of the best things I’ve ever done because we formed the Chicago Pizza Club on our drive home, stuffed with heavenly pizza and eager to regularly start sampling pizza around the city.

Much has changed since that time. For starters, many of the original crew have come and gone due to graduations and jobs leading them elsewhere. Additionally, this former roommate of mine is now married and has a baby – the smallest pizza club member. Since we have so many new faces, we have decided to break a long standing pizza club rule and start re-visiting pizzerias to allow new members to experience some of our greatest finds.

Enough sentimentality. Let’s get to the pizzas. Sadly, I have lost my piece of paper detailing our meal, but I can remember some of the pizzas. I also remember nothing was left of them.

  • Shrimp and garlic
  • Roast Beef
  • Tomato and basil
The pizzas start arriving within 20 minutes because they’re thin and this place is actually efficient. Additionally, the price was right. The bill for each member was less than $15, including whatever drinks we may have ordered. In general, this place was extremely well received. The crust was thin and firm, but still with that classic cracker-like character. The sauce was well seasoned enough that I could taste it despite it being present in small amounts so as to not overwhelm the crust. The cheese was the most inauspicious part, but the toppings were fabulous. Fresh vegetables and meats are thinly sliced to cook at the same time as the rest of the pizza. One word for this pizzeria’s product is balance.

On this visit, Petey gives Nick and Vito's a 9.

CPC invaded Vito & Nick's on 11/13/08.

The Chicago Pizza Club digs in...

Tomatoe & Basil!

Shrimp & Garlic!!

Francisco has a mouthful...

Italian Beef!

Leave your plastic at home...

A truly sad sight...

What do you mean it's all gone?

People with glasses like pizza too...

A very happy (and full) Chicago Pizza Club

Where it went down...

Vito & Nick's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon