Obbie’s Pizza – Garfield Ridge, Chicago

Since 1977

There is great pizza all over Chicago and the rest of the metro area, but a special region for classic Chicago-style thin crust pizza exists on the city’s Southwest Side and stretches into the suburbs. This region, located particularly along Archer Avenue extending west and south past Midway Airport, boast numerous long-time small businesses that specialize in family style thin crust cut in squares.

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It’s a bit of long trip from Logan Square to the neighborhood of Garfield Ridge, which is located north of the airport. This community, I believe, was documented (though under a pseudonym) in the book Working-Class Heroes by sociologist Maria Kefalas, and there is no shortage of places to get hot dogs, Italian beef, and great pizza in the area. Streets are lined with nice, modest single-family homes, and for many years the area has been the home of many police officers, firefighters, and other workers on the city payroll.

Obbie’s Pizza is one of those great places that serves a classic “slice” of Chicago. A take-out and delivery joint where the employees where matching t-shirts and you can see the dough rolled, Obbie’s likely looks much the same as it did when it opened in 1977. The pizza is standard–a good thing–Chicago-style thin crust. Another Chicago favorite, stuffed pizza, is available, too.

Obbie's menu 2

And like a number of pizza places in the corners of Chicago, Obbie’s also sells fried–or in this case, broasted–chicken. However, if we happen to be out by Obbie’s and craving chicken, we more than like would grab a delicious box from the wonderful, and nearby, Mini Hut.

Obbie's menu 3

Obbie’s is good Chicago-style thin crust pizza, perfect for a Friday night watching the Blackhawks at home with the family.

Obbie’s Pizza is located at 6654 W. Archer Ave., Chicago, IL 60638

(773) 586-2828

Obbie’s Pizza on Facebook

Tobin’s Pizza – Bloomington, IL

Since 1963

On the long drive from Chicago to visit family in St. Louis, the Hound and his parents always struggled to find a good place to get a bite to eat. The traffic leaving Chicago was usually horrendous, so once we got moving, we usually didn’t want to stop. But still, fast food was typically the most common and convenient option. So, one night after some convincing, the Hound led us to Tobin’s Pizza in the one of the few large stops on the trip, Bloomington-Normal.

Interestingly, Tobin’s serves two different menus: its own, and also that of another former local pizzeria, Micheleo’s. This caused some confusion for me as I called and the person on the other end of the line said, “Tobin’s or Micheleo’s?” Huh? After the third time the question was asked, I blurted out “Tobin’s,” scared I was giving away the fact that I wasn’t a local. According to Tobin’s website, Micheleo’s had been open since 1981, but in the last few years its owners sold the business to Tobin’s, who added that place’s menu to its, well, menu. Micheleo’s pizza probably great (there used to be two locations in the area), but we felt like we had to go with the primary namesake on this first trip.

Inside, Tobin’s is a classic family pizzeria–the type you don’t see enough of these days. Lots of tablecloths covering the tables, sparkly strands of lights, a few booths, wood paneling, and carpet. By far the best part of the dining room is the huge photo collection of customers enjoying their meals at Tobins. This photographs line nearly every wall–photos of smiling softball teams from 1984, kids’ birthday parties, first dates, and the like. Snapshots from happy pizza moments that are immortalized forever, all the while connecting Tobin’s to the local community. It’s clear that Tobin’s is a nice, comfortable place that thousands of local families have patronized numerous times on special occasions, quiet Thursday nights, and countless times in between.

We had to eat the pizza in the car, but that didn’t take away from the flavor. All pepperoni, half sausage, as usual. Piping hot! The thin and somewhat soft tavern crust was excellent. A true standout. The sausage, which came in huge chunks, was certainly notable, too. It had a distinct, strong flavor of some sort of spice that we could not place. I was hesitant after the first few bites but I eventually loved it. Can’t say that we’ve had any other sausage like it. Having this delicious, aromatic pie in the front seat drove Ernie bonkers! He would have eaten the whole thing if we had let him!

The Hound and I were determined to stop and try Micheleo’s pizza, but the timing never worked out. Tobin’s was definitely worth the short drive off I-55, and we would love to have it again. They do pan pizza, too, under the name “Momma Teresa’s”. You probably would have to grow up in Bloomington or Normal to keep all the names straight! Check out Tobin’s for a nice family pizzeria dining experience, or grab it to go on the long dark drive through central Illinois!

Tobin’s Pizza is located at 1513 N. Main St. in Bloomington, Illinois

(309) 828-0410

Official Tobin’s Pizza Website

Tobin’s Pizza on Facebook

Geneo’s Pizza – Chicago Lawn, Chicago

“You Ring – We Bring”

The Pizza Hound and I really miss Chicago-style thin crust pizza. Though there are definitely similar pizzas across the country, and particularly in the Midwest and Great Lakes region, it really isn’t everywhere in the country. It’s everywhere in Chicago, though, and all kinds of places make a great pie. Sometimes nothing sounds better than a basic cheesy thin pizza cut in squares from an old pizzeria.

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Geneo’s (or is it Pizza By Geneo’s?) definitely fits the bill. It is standard Chicago-style thin crust pizza. No flash, but definitely good. Ernie and I swung by Geneo’s on a Sunday afternoon, rather than our typical Friday or Saturday night hunt. Geneo’s is located on 59th street on the south side, between Sacramento and Richmond Streets. It’s take-out and delivery only, and the inside is fairly unimpressive (however, a fancy interior is not at all a requirement for a great pizza), with a counter to order, a menu on the wall, and a seat to wait.

The take-out menu notes that all pizzas have a cheese base (in this case, pointing out that they use real cheese), which to me is one of the intriguing quirks of Chicago pizza menus. Not the cheese itself, but this and other menus’ upfront discussions of cheese. As one would expect, many restaurants don’t mention the cheese at all on their menus, but some will  go the slightly different route than Geneo’s and explicitly outline “cheese and sausage” or “cheese and mushrooms” for whatever price. And some will have a very long list of these simple combinations, each usually with exactly the same price no matter what topping is listed. Why does each one need to be listed in that way? The person taking the order will even say, “So, that’s a extra large with cheese, pepperoni, and sausage.” Uncommon preferences aside, don’t pizzas almost always have cheese? Why does it need to be mentioned? A fun little idiosyncrasy.

Now to the pizza itself. We kept it standard, with all pepperoni and half sausage, and we liked Geneo’s. It’s Chicago-style thin crust typical of the South Side, cut in squares, just like we wanted. Overall, it did not blow us away, but you certainly couldn’t do wrong by ordering it if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Geneo’s has apparently been around for a few decades, which is great. It also has a beautiful neon sign, of which I sadly have no photos. But I did get a photo of the Hound eagerly awaiting his prize!

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Also, I love these pizza menu designs. Who creates these? I feel like I have seen this same pizza man on another menu, but I may be wrong, because it’s on the Geneo’s sign, too. Either way, they are a great, fun element of pizza pop culture.

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Geneo’s Pizza is located at 2945 W. 59th Street in Chicago.

(773) 925-1631

Is this really the Geneo’s website? Check out the bizarrely vague video!

Geneo’s Pizza on Yelp