4469 W Lawrence Ave. (GoogleMaps)
CPC invaded Sano's Pizza on 3/23/10.
Sano's Pizza is a mysterious place. I don't know anyone who has eaten there, they've only driven by. There's no website, and phone calls are unanswered. There isn't even voicemail. The official page on Facebook boasts only 44 fans. That said, there are a few ardent fans on Yelp! and other sites. In fact, I hadn't heard of it until some readers emailed us to recommend we check out their pizza. So what's this place all about?
Sano's Pizza, located in Chicago's Mayfair neighborhood (in the Albany Park community) at Lawrence and Elston, has been in business since the 1950s. The current owner, Frank, has owned it for the last 40 years. He bought it from the original owner, the eponymous Mr. Sano. Frank is a kindly older gentleman, who cooks the pizzas right out front in a Faulds rotating gas oven (a Chicago-based bakery oven manufacturer). It's clear Sano's is not like Spacca Napoli, and other "Neapolitan-style" pizzerias that are de rigueur in Chicago these days. Frank dislikes brick ovens because they do not cook consistently -- pies are either under-done or over-done, and then they are over-priced. He originally wanted to move his oven into the back, but never did. Now, he's happy that it's in the front, because having the kitchen in the front is back in style. There's no doubt that Frank, and his lovely niece, Maria, who was our waitress, are delightful. But what about the pizza?
- thin crust with sausage and garlic
- thin crust with Italian beef and onion
- stuffed pizza with broccoli
Giardiniera is available upon request to accompany the Italian beef. Some took advantage of the Giardiniera, others did not. Even without the Giardiniera, the Italian beef can stand on its own, if you like beef on a pizza in general. The crust has integrity, the sauce has flavor, and the Italian beef is subtle in flavor, with somewhat crispy edges due to the thin slices.
There were mixed feelings at the table about the stuffed pizza. The schism is due to the amount of cheese in this pie. If you think there is such a thing as too much cheese, then this is not for you. However, if you can take a lot of cheese in a single slice, I think you'll be pleased. The broccoli in our stuffed pizza was not overcooked, the pieces were large and included the stems. In a way, the presence of broccoli made the whole dish seem more virtuous. The crust on the stuffed pizza, like the thin crust, was firm and flavorful. The outer crust was chewy with a pleasant blend of melty cheese and sauce.
Sano's may be somewhat of a mystery, but it's definitely worth a trip to Mayfair.
It must be noted that our final bill -- for three pizzas generously serving nine people -- was under $60. This is a very good pizza at $8 per person (including tip). Also, Sano's is BYOB, with no corkage fee and there is a liquor store next door.
As a final note -- one of our party was wearing the official Chicago Pizza Club thong panty. I can't say who, but a little bird told me that the panty was stylish, and comfortable after you got used to it. If you'd like one for yourself, check out the Chicago Pizza Club store at CafePress.com.