3701 W 95th Street (GoogleMaps)
Evergreen Park, IL
CPC invaded Barraco's on 8/26/08.
The CPC was supposed to go to Roseangela's, a longstanding Southside pizzeria in Evergreen Park. Unfortunately, when the first members arrived, they discovered that Roseangela's is not open on Tuesday's. I probably should have asked about that when I called, but in my defense, they were open on Monday and I've never heard of a pizza place that was open on Monday and closed on Tuesday; that's just weird.
Anyhow, those first arrivals' devotion to pizza was unwavering and they realized that Barraco's was just a mile down the street, so the CPC was still able to enjoy some Southside thin crust pizza.
Barraco's was started in 1980 by members of the Barraco's family. Last time we were at Vito and Nick's, a customer there confidently told us that the Barraco who started Barraco's is cousins with Nick Barraco of Vito & Nick's. I don't know if that's true, but the two restaurants have little in common.
CPC typically goes to the original location of each restaurant it invades. The original Barraco's was so successful that it had to shut down and move to a new location, which is where we went. Since then, Barraco's has added six more locations.
While most Barraco's locations are pizzerias, the one we went to is billed as Barraco's Italian Ristorante. Indeed, the flower beds outside, and cloth tablecloths and napkins inside were not typical of a pizzeria. The Barraco's menu includes typical Italian entrees, pastas, barbecue, fish (halibut at a pizzeria?), sandwiches and hamburgers (including a pizza burger that we did not try).
The last page of the menu featured Barraco's wide variety of pizzas. Like Vito & Nick's, Barraco's served a very thin crust pizza. In fact, they serve a thin and an extra thin. But unlike V & N, Barraco's also has a deep dish, a stuffed, and a Sicilian. And of course, we tried all five varieties.
The pizzas were not all served at once, instead coming out in the order of how long it takes to cook each one. Up first was the Nicky's Special, which comes with an extra thin crust and lite cheese. We opted for garlic as the only topping. The crust was extremely thin and very firm, but it was not crisp. Biting into it did not cause a snap like it does at Pat's or Vito & Nick's. The texture is actually hard to describe - it wasn't soggy, crisp, crunchy or chewy - the only thing I've ever had close to it is a Carr's Table Water Cracker that had some moisture in it.
The second pizza was the regular thin crust, which was slightly thicker than the extra thin, and had the same texture. The thin crust did not come with light cheese and we ordered onions and green peppers. I did not notice the onions on that pie, but was happy to see the green peppers diced. On a pizza that thin, large chunks of green peppers would have completely overwhelmed the rest of the pizza. Both thin pies only had a thin layer of sauce on them, though the regular thin had noticeably more than the extra thin.
The third pizza to arrive was the deep dish sausage pizza. The first thing I noticed about that pie was that it looked nothing like any deep dish pizza that I have ever seen. The bottom crust was not thick at all. Usually, I think of the difference between a deep dish and a pan pizza as being the pan pizza has a thin crust. Not thin like Barraco's thin crust, but thin like a Giordano's thin crust or a New York-style thin crust.
But I wouldn't call this pizza a pan pizza, because the outer crust was among the thickest I have ever seen. Also, while the bottom crust was thin in the middle, it did get a little thicker towards the outside. The thick part of the crust at the back tasted very similar to the rolls they gave us when we sat down. Like an Italian bread roll, it has a relatively thick and crispy outer shell, with soft bread inside.
Like any respectable deep dish slice, this one came with a lot of sauce, a lot of cheese and a lot of toppings, in this case sausage. The sauce did not have much seasoning and was neither sweet nor tangy. It was chunky, and seemed like little more than crushed tomatoes. The sausage was heavily seasoned with anise and fennel.
The next pizza was the stuffed pie. We got the Mama Barraco's Stuffed Pizza, which comes with spinach and ricotta as well as mozzarella. As with the deep dish, this one came with a lot of toppings, which was particularly good in terms of the ricotta which often can barely be tasted on a thick pizza. The spinach was fresh and was quite good.
The final pizza was what they called a Sicilian, but was unlike any Sicilian pizza I've ever seen. Typically, a Sicilian pie consists of at least an inch thick piece of crust that has the consistency of dense bread, like a focaccia. A Sicilian is usually cooked in a rectangular pan and the pieces are rectangles. The Barraco's version of a Sicilian is a circular pizza with a regular crust (thickness-wise). In other words, it is not a Sicilian pizza.
That said, the Sicilian had my personal favorite crust of the night. The crust was both crunchy and chewy, and it had enough substance to stand up to the significant amount of cheese, sauce and toppings, in this case roast beef. The amount of cheese and toppings is actually another way this pizza was different from normal Sicilian pizzas - they usually only have a thin layer of cheese and toppings, and sometimes have no sauce at all. While I appreciated the amount of roast beef, I did not appreciate that it was listed on the menu as Italian beef. Now, roast beef and Italian beef come from the same cut of meat, but Italian beef is seasoned for hours. If this meat was seasoned at all, I did not taste it.
Barraco's is a favorite of many Southsiders and I'm glad the CPC got to return there, even if it was only possible because of Roseangela's odd policy of being closed on Tuesday and my failure to figure that out beforehand. My only regret is that we all ate too much to head over to Rainbow Cone afterwards.
The CPC gives Barraco's 6.75/10.
The Thin Crust with Garlic...
Green Peppers and Onions...
Some Tasty Sausage...
The Pizza Club in Action...
Kelly on the other side of the camera for once...
Where it went down...
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Thursday, September 04, 2008