Jim & Pete’s – Elmwood Park, IL

Since 1941

If Jim & Pete’s has been around 1941, then it certainly makes a run for the oldest pizza place we visited in the Chicago area. In the same year America went to war, two partners, Jim Sorce, Sr. and Pete Sizzo, opened a pizza counter at Chicago and Pulaski avenues in the West Humboldt Park in Chicago . By the 1950s, they had expanded service to a full service restaurant in River Forest. They operated until the mid-1980s when they moved to the current location. The Sorce family (including Jim’s son, Jim Jr.), along with the nephew of the other original partner, run Jim & Pete’s to this day, using the recipes of Jim Sr.’s wife for many of the dishes.   Check out this great old photograph of the original location from the official website!

The trek to Jim & Pete’s was a relatively easy one for us. Ernie jumped in the passenger seat and we headed west on North Avenue to the city limits, then traveling through Oak Park to Elmwood Park. North Avenue serves as the border between Elmwood Park and the beautiful tree-lined streets of River Forest, which with the expensive, large homes on large lots looks like a scene out of a 1980s John Hughes movie.

A few other restaurants dot this stretch of North Avenue. One such establishment is the fantastic Chicago classic, Johnnie’s Beef. There always seems to be a line of customers running outside around the building. The wait is worth it, though, as they serve one of the tastiest, mouthwatering beefs in Chicago. The Italian sausage and fries are great, too.

We called in the order, then drove around the neighborhood to check it out. Lots of one-and-a-half story, single family yellow brick homes and some more spacious two-story ones, each with a very neat lawn. Many appear to have been built in the 1940s and ’50s. Some homes in Elmwood Park, particularly those in the section north of Grand Avenue, were constructed in the 1920s,

Just bit west toward the river was Russell’s Barbecue on Thatcher Avenue, which looks straight out of an old Route 66 postcard, with a lot beautiful neon signage. We’ve never tasted the food at Russell’s, but I once bought a bottle of their signature sauce. To my taste, it was pretty strange, with a preponderance of an unidentifiable spice. That said, it deserves points for being unique. But anyway, we got back pretty quickly, though, as the pizza was surely ready in the standard Chicago “15 to 20.”

Jim & Pete's 2014 - Google Street View

Source: Google Street View

It was a weekend summer evening, and business was good at Jim & Pete’s. This newer building, though it’s built up to the sidewalk, looks a bit like a suburban style restaurant with parking lots on the sides. The staff was very friendly and welcoming, and they directed me to the small pickup window in the back. We had a coupon for a free bottle of Pepsi and our bill came out to about $22 including tax. As the sun set, we headed back east on North Avenue. Once at home, we opened up the treasure.

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Ernie was very interested in this pizza.

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This extra large pizza–18 inches–was something to behold. While it may look just like all the others, it was better than most. Even with simple toppings like sausage and pepperoni it somehow transcended such a basic formula. The cheese and sausage were very good, with the sausage and pepperoni found mostly on top of the cheese. The sauce was fantastic and formed a small flavorful ring around the edge leaving a small bit of crust visible. And the crust, too, was outstanding. Very, very thin and crispy–perfect for an occasional treat for Ernie. I have to admit, though, it was hard to give up any of this pizza, even to the little guy.

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Jim & Pete’s also serves double dough, pan, stuffed, and “hand rolled” crusts–and I bet they do each of them well. The thin crust was excellent, though, and I wish we could have it again. Way to go, Pizza Hound!

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We highly recommend the pizza at Jim & Pete’s. It’s amazing how any place can maintain quality for 75 years. From its earliest days in West Humbolt Park to over three decades in down the street in River Forest to today in Elmwood Park, somehow Jim & Pete’s has done it.

Jim & Pete’s is located at 7806 W. North Ave., Elmwood Park, IL 60707

(708) 453-5204

Jim & Pete’s Official Website

Jim & Pete’s 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

Al’s Pizza – Warrenville, IL

Since 1959

We came across Al’s about a year and a half ago when the Hound’s mom did some babysitting for some old friends in Naperville. I didn’t have to hang around, so I checked out downtown. Nice walkable area, with a grown-up small town vibe. Lots of people out. There’s a nice historic area a short walk away, not to mention North Central College and a Metra stop.

Naperville is actually much larger than its quaint downtown suggests; it now has a population of over 140,000 people. There’s probably great pizza in Naperville, but I had a place in mind that the Pizza Hound picked out.

It took a bit of a drive north to find Al’s Pizza. If Naperville seemed like it used to be a small town, the area around Al’s still really felt like a small town. You would have no idea that Warrenville was now a small western suburb with a population of about 13,000, with gleaming office parks and Interstate 88 just a short drive away. When Al’s opened in 1959, there were only about 3,000 people living in Warrenville.

From the outside, Al’s looked a bit like a small roadhouse, with cars parked around the outside. Inside there was a nice comfortable dining area, with some booths and photos on the walls. The lighting was perfect for the place, not too bright and not too dark. The place seemed like a great spot to go with the family for a Friday night meal or with friends after a game.

At the take-out counter, the staff was very friendly and welcoming. Most of the young guys working in the kitchen were wearing some form of hunting camouflage, which reminded me a lot of my hometown in Missouri. I grabbed the pizza and headed back to Naperville.

As usual, the pizza was all pepperoni, half sausage. The crust was great. Very thin, but almost soft. There was a small bit of crust visible along the edge, which meant a lot of crust for Ernie. A delicious and very well-made pizza. Recommended. Check ’em out sometime!

Al’s Pizza is located 28W241 Warrenville Rd., Warrenville, IL 60555

(630) 393-9630

We don’t have any photos, as this was early on the pizza hunt, but check out these sites out for some good ones.

Al’s Pizza Official Website

Al’s Pizza on Facebook

Al’s Pizza on Yelp