PIZZA WEEK # 1 GIOACCHINO’S – BELLWOOD

The Maestro’s Review

Our first journey into the world of Chicago Pizza began at my favorite childhood pizzeria, Gioacchino’s in Belwood, IL. For almost the entirety of 7th & 8th grade, my best friend and I ordered from there almost nightly. I never went to the actual restaurant until I returned to Chicago in 2003. A copy of Fra Noi was on our table when we got there, which boded well for the evening, as did the various pictures of Jesus, Madonna, and various saints on the walls (our booth was personally protected by San Francesco). And there was also a TV that somehow got RAI.

The menu boasted everything from Ribs to Broasted Chicken, and everything in between. But we were there for the pizza.

Our group ordered 3 pizzas tonight.

Pizza 1) Cheese
Pizza 2) Sausage & Pepperoni
Pizza 3) Vegetarian

I only ate from pizzas 1 & 2. I’ll let Glenn handle # 3. The first thing I can say was that the pizza was just as delicious as I remembered from my childhood. Which was a relief. So many things in that area of Maywood, Melrose Park, Oak Park, and Bellwood are either gone, or have changed ownership so many times that they might as well be gone. Moving back to Chicago after a hiatus of 15 years brought with it its share of nostalgia letdown. Now Gioacchino’s though. They do still insist on pronouncing it with a soft “c,” but int he arena of Italo-American mispronunciation, that is a relatively venial sin.

So, the pizza. It was cut in the Chicago way of squares instead of slices, which I think is the real way to experience pizza. It breaks it down into the edge pieces (which are a good entryway to the pizza), and the center pieces (where the real pizza is). The crust was very good. Very thin and crispy, but not burnt in any way. A little low on salt, but that was a good thing I think, since the rest of the pizza had a lot of taste. The crust was a very nice, light intro to the pizza itself. The cheese was delicious and not too greasy. The sauce was also quite light. Really, the whole thing had an airiness to it that I enjoyed, since I’m so used to doubling over in a carb coma after eating pizza. Even the meats were not too much. The sausage was not too spicy, and the pepperoni had just enough taste in it that it didn’t overpower the cheese and sauce.

Mostly I was just delighted to be with friends and loved ones and to successfully share a part of my childhood with them. Next week: Spacca Napoli.

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