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It’s tough to find a good pizza in Chicago. Sure, we’re internationally known for the deep dish pie, but any honest Chicagoan knows that the deep dish pizza was invented for the Michigan Avenue tourist set. The loaded gut bombs are fish stories that soccer moms and Nascar dads can bring back to their co-workers, friends, and family. “Man you should have seen this pizza, it had two pounds of cheese and was as big as your head.” This is fine for out-of-towners, but if you live in Chicago long enough, you know if you eat more than one or two deep dish pizzas in a year, you will start looking like one.
That is why we also have the cracker crust thin pie, cut into a hundred little squares, leaving soggy center pieces without crust, and small 1 inch corner pieces that are all crust. This is the kind of pizza you’ll find at the south side institution, Nick and Vito pizzeria, located at 8435 S. Pulaski on a strip of road bedizened with Vegas like neon signs.
The pizza is some of the better thin crust in Chicago. Sometimes cracker crust is too crunchy and dried out, with the corners scratching the inside of your mouth. Nick and Vito’s version has a nice crunch, but it’s still slightly chewy, and the sauce is tangy and sweet. We ordered one pizza with sausage and one with black olive. The sausage had palate zinging spice, and a hint of grease to keep your stomach and mouth happy. A large pizza and a couple of beers will set you back about 20 bucks.
Side note on décor and American Idol: Any authentic pizza joint should remind you of an old Italian family basement. Nick and Vito’s isn’t a reminder, it’s the real deal. The walls are carpeted on top and wood laminate paneled on the bottom, the dining tables are covered in gold flake Formica, and plastic tri-color and Tiffany style chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Ditka loving, Old Style swilling men grasp tiny pilsner glasses with their meaty fingers, and chain smoking scratchy throated women park their ample backsides in turquoise vinyl stools. On this particular night, these hardcore Chicagoans were enraptured with the two 20 inch tube style televisions (no plasma here) showing American Idol. Every time some hapless contestant warbled, or Simon Cowell unleashed his British fury, these folks roared with laughter. While it didn’t seem like the core demographic for the show, we now understand why Idol is the highest rated show in America.