Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. —The Mgmt.
4469 W. Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, IL 60630 (map); 773-725-9863 or 773-725-9482
Getting There: Blue Line to Montrose or #81 Lawrence bus
Pizza Style: Thin, Sicilian and Stuffed
Oven Type: Gas
The Skinny: No frills joint turns has been satisfying pizza cravings in Mayfair for over 50 years
Price: 12" thin crust with two toppings is $14.45 and includes free liter of Coke
On the northwest side of Chicago, just a few blocks down from the more widely known Marie's (reviewed here), sits a neighborhood gem with a very strange sign. During the day, the tall sign seems to read "Nick's." But at night, when the neon light turns on, it appears the place is called Sano's. It turns out that the place was originally called Nick's but when the current owner purchased it about 40 years ago, he renamed the place Sano's. He understandably kept the sign, but added the new name in lights.
When the Chicago Pizza Club visited Sano's a couple of months ago, I missed the meeting. But given the enthusiastic reports from that crew, I put Sano's on my short list. After making it over there this week, I can see the praise was deserved. This is not a pizza that's going to blow your mind, but if you're in the neighborhood, it's one that will bring you some Chicago thin crust pizza joy.
In an order befitting an old school Chicago pizzeria, I opted for a pie with sausage and giardiniera. The sausage, made in house, comes in large chunks of fatty, well-seasoned porky goodness. The primarily celery and hot pepper giardiniera gave the pizza a nice kick and some bits of crunchy texture. The thick sauce, which likely has some tomato paste in it, does not suffer from too much sugar, but I thought it could have used a little more savory seasonings given its heaviness. In addition to bringing the tomato flavor, the sauce also played a vital role in preventing the giardiniera from dominating the pizza.
As was the case a few weeks ago at Manzo's (reviewed here), the crust at Sano's is not going to win any awards. It's on the thicker side for a thin crust and doesn't add much flavor to the pie. But the dry crust serves its two functions of holding up the vast quantities of sauce, cheese and toppings and adding some nice crisp texture to every bite.
Sano's serves Sicilian and stuffed pizza in addition to thin crust, but on this visit I limited myself to their classic style. The pizza isn't earth shattering, but it's more than a little satisfying and good enough to warrant a future visit to try one of their other offerings.