Danny’s Pizza Place – Garfield Ridge, Chicago

Since c.1970s

Danny’s Pizza on Chicago’s Southwest Side was another stop in which the Hound stayed home. Of course he had to point us where to go, but we also made some stops of our own along the way.

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My great friend Matt was in town from St. Louis for the night. I wasn’t much feeling like hitting the bars and restaurants in the Logan Square and West Town areas, and instead wanted to get away for a bit. Matt’s has been a great traveling partner of mine for years, and we always seek different places to experience, so he had no problem taking a drive around the city for the evening.

Being March, it was a fairly cold day, as winter Chicago isn’t really over until June 1. First, we headed down to the Southeast Side via Lake Shore Drive and South Shore Drive. We drove through the huge vacant site of US Steel in South Chicago and, as the Chicago Skyway loomed above, we passed the houses and former industrial sites of the East Side and South Deering  We grabbed a burger at Phil’s Kastle on 95th Street at Avenue M, a great little joint with booths and a sandwich counter around the corner from the fabulous Skyway Dog House and about a block away from the sadly now-closed Mexican Inn.

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Still hungry, we headed west on 95th and had a small feast of smoked whitefish and trout at Calumet Fisheries. The sun was going down, and despite the fact that we already had a few things to eat, we inched our way northwest across the city looking for pizza.

Of course, we drove by the old stockyard gates on our way to short stop for a tasty craft beer a Maria’s Community Bar in Bridgeport. Is there any better bar in the entire world than Maria’s? There very well may be, but I’m not sure I know of it. After that, we grabbed a Coca-Cola to-go at a nearby corner store, and kept the trip across the South Side moving. We then found the dependable Chicago Pizza Highway, also known as Archer Avenue, and sought out…well…pizza.

We had a lot of choices, as it’s pretty easy to find a pizza along this thoroughfare as it moves diagonally through Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Brighton Park, Archer Heights, and Garfield Ridge out toward Midway. Danny’s stood out, though, if only for THAT SIGN! Classic and perfect.

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We parked in the lot on back, then headed through the wood-paneled delivery area–likely unchanged since the Danny’s opened–to reach the restaurant’s dining room. It was quiet for a Saturday night, with just a handful of regulars at the bar and a couple seated at one of the red and white checkered tablecloth covered tables. The local news played on the TV. We sat at the bar and ordered two Miller Lites.

A few minutes after ordering, our big pizza arrived. It was extremely hot, with a nice, somewhat thick layer of mozzarella. The amount of sauce was light, but the good crust. It was a great pizza, one that was surely best when enjoyed fresh out of the oven, and it was a perfect ending point for our tour of the city.

Unfortunately, it appears that Danny’s has closed since we visited a little over a year and half ago. This is sad, as it certainly contributed to the neighborhood as part of Pizza Row. I think I read something about it being taken over by another pizza place in the area, Villa Rosa, but we’re not sure this is the case.

Sadly, another classic pizza place has disappeared. Ernie must have known we needed to try it before it was gone for good.

Danny’s Pizza Place was located at 6021 S. Archer Ave., Chicago, IL 60638

Danny’s Pizza Place on Facebook

Danny’s Pizza Place on Yelp

 

Frank’s Pizzeria – Schorsch Village, Chicago

Since 1952

Through the light snow as the Pizza Hound and I traveled down Belmont Avenue, a glorious neon sign beckoned. The sure sign that a classic Chicago experience was inside.

Frank's Pizzeria from Google Street View

Source: Google Street View

And that is a great neon sign. The only photo I managed to snap of it was crazy blurry, so I didn’t even bother posting it. But to me, a sign like that says “years of dependable quality,” and the sign didn’t lie. Frank’s has been open since 1952, making it one of the older pizza places we’ve visited.

Where Frank’s really excels is the dine-in experience. Many of the pizza places Ernie and I visit are mainly carryout. Even if a place has a dining room, sometimes it’s pretty boring and it’s not the most exciting place to enjoy your meal. The dining room at Frank’s, however, like the neighborhood surrounding the establishment, is a comforting time warp to decades before. Little appears to have been changed since maybe the ’50s or ’60s.

Covered with wood paneling, the interior of Frank’s is relatively compact, with several small, private booths lining the walls on either side and a few tables and chairs in the middle. Tablecloths and a few plants add to the atmosphere. When we went to Frank’s, the place was completely empty. People these days probably prefer newer, flashier places for a night out, and I get that. But treasures like Frank’s die all the time, and once they are gone, they are gone for good. As quiet as it can be there, Frank’s Pizzeria is surely a great place for private date or a secret agent meeting, though. Cozy and inviting, you will be treated to the way people used to enjoy pizza.

Of course, this trip was early in our pizza houndin’, so I don’t have any good pictures of the interior. Maybe it’s best that way. Go yourself and be surprised. It really is a treat.

We got carryout, as usual, with our typical thin crust. Tasty classic Chicago-style pizza cut in squares. We also ordered the breaded ravioli, which was good, as well. Breaded–or toasted–ravioli used to be pretty much an exclusively St. Louis thing (trust us, you can count on it on just about every menu in the city), but it seems be branching out all over the country, including to Chicago.

Frank's Pizzeria Menu

Frank’s does pan and stuffed pizzas, as well, and you can get double dough if you want your thin crust to be a little thicker. You can even get popular Chicago food items such as Italian beef and giardiniera as toppings. What’s up with the “half and half – 2 ingredients only” listing? Shouldn’t it be the same price as a one topping? I’ve seen this at a few other older pizza places and it confuses me a bit. Maybe it’s left over from years ago when people didn’t load down their pizzas with a lot of toppings and one different topping on each was all the variety one desired.

Frank's menu pizza listings

Frank’s also offers a number of appetizers, ribs, and “golden fried chicken,” the last of which seems to be fairly common on the menus of pizza places in all corners of the city.  And like many other pizza joints in Chicago, loyalty is rewarded. Collect 20 and get a free pizza!

Frank's Pizzeria cards

Frank’s Pizzeria serves good pizza that’s probably best enjoyed in their classic dining room. Going there is a great opportunity to get a slice of somewhat slower and timeless version Chicago than the craziness that happens as one gets closer to the lake. For these all reasons, Frank’s Pizzeria has become a favorite spot for my friends Christian and Brittney. Christian eyes his prize below.

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Frank’s Pizzeria is located at 6506 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago

(773) 283-2564

Updated: Official Frank’s Pizzeria Website

Linda’s Pizza – Joliet, IL

Since 1981

A lot of times, we use other events around Chicagoland as an excuse to find new pizza places. Many of those events happen to be local pro wrestling shows, and unfortunately Ernie does not usually get to go. This is sad because he loves listening to wrestling at home…and he loves pizza. On top of that, I still need his help to find the pizza.

So, per the Hound’s instructions, I sought out Linda’s Pizza in Joliet after a Pro Wrestling Blitz show at the St. Joe’s Park Field House! Blitz always puts on a fun family friendly show of local wrestlers and occasionally big name stars. We’ve seen a few shows there, and it truly is a great American experience. There are few things more exciting than a packed show on a Friday or Saturday with people of all ages cheering for their favorite stars and booing the bad guys. It’s such a great value for families to spend a fun night together. Check out this action outside of the ring!

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One show we attended had special guests Jerry “The King” Lawler . . .

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. . . and, in one of his last shows ever, the famous manager of the Undertaker, Paul Bearer.

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The special guest for this particular night, however, was Mr. Ken Anderson, formerly known as WWE Superstar Mr. Kennedy…Kennedy!

While wrestling shows, including this one, usually sell pizza by the slice–as well as candy, hot dogs, drinks, and popcorn–to enjoy during the show, the city of Joliet had a few other great pizza choices worth checking out. We had really enjoyed Cemeno’s Pizza once in the past, so it was time try someplace new (or at least new to us), and that place was Linda’s.

Linda's West from Google streetview

Source: Google Street View

Linda’s has been in Joliet for nearly three and a half decades, and I believe this is the second location, Linda’s Pizza West. The staff was nice and efficient. Business seemed to be going well. The pizza is a solid value, with thin crust, but not too thin–what I would call medium thin.

As an unique bonus, Linda’s offers a garlic crust option, for which I happily asked for and enjoyed. It was a nice touch, adding a buttery and, well, garlicky flavor at the end of each piece. Unfortunately, the garlic content meant Ernie didn’t get to try this one, but he was just proud that he hounded the place out!

Wait…is that the Geneo’s Pizza guy on the Linda’s sign???

Linda's West sign

Geneo's sign

Source: Google Street View

Linda’s Pizza has two locations, but we enjoyed Linda’s Pizza West, located at 723 Taylor Street, Joliet, IL 60435

(815) 726-4425

…and “Ask for Garlic Crust”

lindaspizza.net

Linda’s Pizza Westside on Facebook

County Inn Pizza (or is it County Line?) – Elmhurst, IL

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The Blackhawks were competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs again when we made our trip to this carryout and delivery place in the West Suburbs, and it proved to be yet another Chicago-style thin crust pizza perfect for watching the game at home with friends and family.

This place is a bit unusual due to its name. So, is it called County Inn Pizza, as the sign outside and a few online listings suggest? Or is the correct name County Line Pizza, as the menus and website say?  County Line makes sense, as the small building is located not too far from Interstate 88 at the intersection of Roosevelt Road and I-294, the Tri-State Tollway, in Cook County right on the border of DuPage County. They even have two numbers reflecting this geographical fact. As the menu proclaims: “One location – 2 area codes – So We Can Save You Money.” Still, County Inn seems the be the name of choice used by most online reviewers. Apparently, the place has been around for over four decades, so maybe the name changed. I’m sure there’s a local out there who could give us some insight on this one.

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The lady who served me, who I think was the Marge in the drawing on the menu above, was very friendly. She encouraged me to not forget my free pop (Pepsi products) as I walked out the door. I’m pretty certain I saw Billy making pizzas in the back with a few other workers, as well. County Inn Pizza must be their labor of love.

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County Inn offers pan pizza, as well as a thick and cheesy pie called a Double Decker, a style found in a few places in the Chicago area. We stuck to our standard–or “control”–a tavern-cut thin crust, all pepperoni, half sausage. We were not disappointed. The cheese was good, and the crust and sauce were sufficient. The pepperonis, however, were a bigger hit. Smaller than standard pepperonis, each piece was cooked on top of the cheese to create numerous small little bowls of bright, greasy goodness.

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County Inn Pizza is worth a try if you want a quick pizza pick-up to watch the hockey game if you are in the Elmhurst area, or in surrounding communities such as Broadview, Berkeley, Bellwood, or Maywood. Go Hawks and go County Inn (or Line)!

County Inn (Line) Pizza is located at 12049 Roosevelt Rd., Elmhurst, Illinois 60126

Cook County: (708) 449-9711    DuPage County (630) 832-9382

countylinepizza.net

Lonnie’s Pizzeria – Dunning, Chicago

Since c.1999

Situated in just west of the Schiller Woods on Irving Park Road at N. Cumberland, Lonnie’s Pizzeria isn’t too far from O’Hare airport, in the Dunning neighborhood. About one hundred years ago, the surrounding area was relatively sparsely populated, but today the community is made up of over 40,000 residents who live mostly in single-family homes. Those residents are lucky enough to not be too far from a few great pizza restaurants, but make no mistake, Lonnie’s is itself a great stop for pizza on the Northwest Side.

Lonnie’s Pizzeria is a little younger than many of the pizza places Ernie and I have visited (as the menu proclaims “Celebrating Our 15th Anniversary), but Lonnie’s is definitely well on it’s way to a long life selling great pizza. The Pizza Hound directed us there on a drizzly spring night to try it out for ourselves.

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Lonnie’s is housed in a small take-out building, with a few bar stools and a counter. We’re not entirely sure, but the building could have been a hot dog stand or fast food restaurant at one point. According to the official website, the owners originally dreamed of a successful hot dog cart, but pizza ended up as their calling.

Which is great for the Pizza Hound and me because Lonnie’s has great Chicago-style thin crust at probably the most affordable price of any pizza of it’s kind in Chicagoland. The total came out to just over $14 for an extra large topping-and-a-half pizza. That’s shockingly affordable for such a great pizza, especially when it seems that most of the pizzas of comparable style and number of toppings seem to hover between $18 and $20 at most places.

The pizza was delicious, too, and went over very well back at the homestead. Good crust, cheese, and sauce. They also offer pan and stuffed crusts, as well as a few specialty pizzas. The Pizza Hound definitely recommends Lonnie’s as a great choice for a quick pizza carryout if you are in the area.

Here’s the front of the menu:

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Collect 20 coupons for a free pizza!

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Lonnie’s Pizza is located at 8343 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60634

(773) 589-1501

Lonnie’s Pizzeria Official Website

Lonnie’s Pizzeria on Facebook

Geo’s Pizza – Montclare, Chicago

Since 1972     

As usual, the Pizza Hound and I look forward to getting a pizza on the weekend. So, one Friday night, right on schedule, Ernie caught a scent and led the way. Soon, we were heading west to try out a pizza we’d never had before, and boy were we glad we found it. 

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“Caught a scent!”

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“I know where to go!”

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“This is the place!”

While there are numerous classic pizza joints on the Southwest Side of Chicago, the city’s Northwest Side should not be underestimated for meeting one’s pizza needs. There are all kinds of great dine-in, take-out, and delivery spots. In particular, Harlem Avenue north of Grand all the way to Irving Park Road is a bit of a Little Italy. It borders the suburb of Elmwood Park and is not too far from the longstanding Italian community of Melrose Park.

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The Hound and I agree: Geo’s Pizza was a great experience all around. It seems little changed over the years. A take-out joint with a counter and a just a handful seats for waiting. Old, faded photos–and some wood paneling–on the walls, connecting Geo’s to past generations of local pizza eaters and their families in the community. Nice people working there, too.

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After a short 15-20 minute wait, the Hound and I picked up our extra large all pepperoni and half-sausage, and it came on the classic cardboard base, covered in a paper bag, perfect for ripping open like a gift to get to the delicious prize inside. Geo’s gave us a free RC Cola, too!

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The pizza was fantastic! One of our favorites. Thin, but not ultra thin. Handmade crust. Nice, tasty sauce and very good cheese. We’d love to have it again. Along with Sorrento’s on Harlem and a number of other places, Geo’s helps make the Northwest Side a pizza destination.
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A few more menu images:

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Geo’s Pizza is located at 2849 N. Harlem Ave. in Chicago

(773) 237-4450

(708) 452-4367

Geo’s Pizza Official Website

Geo’s Pizza on Facebook (unofficial page)