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#1
Posted December 11th 2010, 11:45pm
I know that everyone has their favorite pizza. I've been a Chicagoan long enuff to know that once one proclaims one pizza as "The Best," then there will be ppl who agree, and ppl who don't. I know that a lot of pizza joints around town are garbage, but there are plenty who put out a decent product. I'd like to tell you about one that puts out a decent product, and I'd also like to tell you that I think it kicks VIlla Nova's butt. Sure, those are strong words, but imo, I like this place's pie much more than Villa Nova, and it's only a few blocks away from VN. Maybe someone else'll give it a try if they are in the area.

So, I've had pies from Salerno's (on Grove in Berwyn) twice before. I didn't care for them that much. Crust too thick and bready, and kinda pricey. I tried it a second time just to make sure the place wasn't having an off night. Fast forward a few years, and I wound up there with a few friends for a red sauce dinner. The table next to us had a pizza on their table that had a noticeably thinner crust, and looked simply awesome. The six top was absolutely gushing about their pizza, and our table kept glancing over, and commenting on how good it looked. I took a closer peek at the menu, and I saw in small print "Thin crust available on request." I knew I had to have one. Soon. Real soon.

I'm not an every day pizza eater, more like once every few months or so. I might not have a sophisticated pizza palate, but I do know what I like. I like crunchy crust, tangy sauce, good sausage, and real mozzarella with a nicely browned top at the bare minimum. This was the Chicago Thin Crust pizza I grew up with. Seems like finding this pizza has become harder and harder. Well, I sure as sh*t found a place that delivers the goods here, and although the price tag skews high, I think I'll call this place "my pizza joint" from here on out.

I like it more than Villa Nova. Villa Nova is, imo, consistently far more salty, and Salerno's crust is imo, perfectly crunchy. Salerno's has also, without me asking for it, presented these pies perfectly cooked, wheras Villa Nova is a crap shoot unless you ask for it to be "browned." Salerno's sausage is great, has a tiny little kick to it, and they use real cheese. This is noticeably premium pie, and I guess you gotta pay for that in these times. I remember getting pies like this for 9.95 back in the day, but I'm thinking I'm turning into an old coot with stories like that. So anyway, I had some visitors from outta town staying over for a few nights, and of course, pizza was on the list of must eats. I order three pies. Sausage and spinach, bacon and sausage, and mushroom and spinach, although what I got was mushroom and sausage. There were no complaints from the veggie requestors. No complaints at ALL. ZERO. They weren't vegetarians, they were just wanting something lighter.

My flagship pie: Spinach and Sausage "Thin Crust"
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Crust:
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Mushroom and Snausage Thin Crust:
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Different View:
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Crust:
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Bacon / Sausage Thin Crust:
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Crust:
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So, I can tell you how great I think these are, but it doesn't matter unless you give em a try. With all the Villa NOva love that's been doled out recently, I thought a shout out is deserved for this place that is only a few blocks away, and I think is better. To each is own, of course, but this place has me craving pizza like I used to when I was a kid. To me, THIS is what Chicago Thin Crust is. It ain't no Neapolitan, New Haven, or New York Style. This is super crunchy thin crust, awesome sausage, too much cheese (but it's REAL cheese, so it's ok,) gut bustin Chicago goodness, and I will probably meet you there if you give me a heads up. Just remember, if you give em a try, you have to ask for thin crust, or you will get the doughy stuff by default.

Salerno's PIzza On Grove
3248 S. Grove
Berwyn, Il.
Full bar, full red sauce menu. The mussels are frozen. Don't believe them when they tell you they are fresh. Grrrr.
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#2
Posted December 12th 2010, 8:10am
Great review and pictures seebee! Do you (or anybody else) know if they are related to the other Salerno's on Roosevelt Rd. in Oak Park?

http://www.salernospizza.com/
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#3
Posted December 12th 2010, 9:10am
Seebee,

Your dislike for Villa Nova is duly noted. That said, the reason why Villa Nova has been getting a lot of love lately is because it's one of the great examples of Chicago style thin crust with homemade Italian sausage ( the largest hunks of homemade sausage I've ever seen on a thin crust pizza ). You never have to order Villa Nova's thin crust "by request" because it's always cracker thin and perfect right out of the oven. And Villa Nova pizza is never "browned" because that has never been their recipe. Their pizza has never been a "crapshoot." Actually, it's quite the contrary- it's perfect.

If you like your cheese "browned," then give Joe's Italian Villa in Bridgeview a shot. Their cheese is always famously browned, and the owners take a lot of pride in their homemade and heavily fenneled sausage. It is truly outstanding "well done" pizza. And no, I don't work for Joe's Italian Villa, and I'm not family or a former employee, either.
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#4
Posted December 12th 2010, 9:59am
Seebee

Got any tips for visiting? Reservations? Crowds, parking etc?

I'm going to check it out later this week.
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#5
Posted December 12th 2010, 10:32am
I don't think I'd worry too much about crowds, but ya never know. Parking should be fine. I'd say in a drastic situation, you'd park a block away at the very most. I do know that they offer some kinda special on Tuesdays, so that might be a busier night. It's like a pitcher of beer and a pizza for x dollars. Make a reservation just to be sure. Special tip: make sure they know you want the thin crust if that's what you want. If they read back the order, and don't say thin crust, I would emphasize while correcting them i.e. "NO, I'd like THIN CRUST." Also, don't be expecting Domino's pricing. Again, maybe I'm an old coot, but there is some sticker shock.

Also, bring your appetite. They are not stingy with the cheese or toppings from my experience. There are plenty of times that I like a simple Margherita or Neopolitan style with great crust, and just a smidgeon of cheese, but this is not what I'm looking for when I go here. This is the Chicago Thin Crust I grew up with, maybe that's why I enjoy it so much.

It's not that I dislike Villa Nova, either, I just think this place is better.
Villa Nova reminds me of the old Shakey's pizza on N Harlem avenue minus the cornmeal on the crust. Not saying that that's a bad thing, it's just that I think there's better for MY tastes.
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#6
Posted December 12th 2010, 11:17am
Also, all of the pies I've had from here have been on Friday nights. Not sure if the kitchen staffs would change the product drastically or not from day to day.
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#7
Posted December 12th 2010, 4:05pm
Seebee, I agree with your observations about SonG, however, I have never tried their thin crust version. I will get their regular pie when I am in the mood for a thicker crust and a lot of cheese. Their ingredients are always top-notch. I need to try the thin crust. They are a little over-priced though, IMO.
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#8
Posted December 12th 2010, 4:29pm
My Dad used to own an auto dealership on Ogden Avenue, and I worked there in the mid to late 1970's. I ate a lot of thin crust Salerno's pizzas back then. Excellent representation of the Chicago thin crust style. IIRC, it reminded me a bit of Palermo's in Oak Lawn.
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#9
Posted December 12th 2010, 4:45pm
While I agree that Salerno's has some very good pie it is a different animal than Villa Nova and Vito and Nick's.

More toppings (a lot of cheese) and a thicker crust.

Thin crust vs tavern style thin.
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#10
Posted December 12th 2010, 4:58pm
My family's usual order is a thin cheese for my daughter and some kind of regular crust for the grown up's. I will say that Salerno's can experience consistancey issues. I've had some really great pizzas there and some below mediocre one's. I had almost given up on them last year, but they haven't done wrong in my last 10 orders (knock on wood). Their "Dee's special" is an excellent example of that genre of pizza.
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#11
Posted December 13th 2010, 11:04am
Cogito wrote:Seebee, I agree with your observations about SonG, however, I have never tried their thin crust version. I will get their regular pie when I am in the mood for a thicker crust and a lot of cheese. Their ingredients are always top-notch. I need to try the thin crust. They are a little over-priced though, IMO.


Cogito -

I'd love to hear your impression if you do try one of their thin crust pies. I'd be interested to hear if you have any recommendations of a similar pie in the area for less $. SonG is expensive indeed, but the thin crust is something special, imo. I'm not a fan of their regular crust at ALL. The regular crust would equate to a heftier, more filling pie for the price, but I wouldn't pay for it. I like their thin, crunchy crust much, much, more.
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#12
Posted December 14th 2010, 10:39am
I like your crust choice about 3/4 of the time. Occassionally, though, I get the taste for pan or stuffed. Then I'm good for a few months.
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#13
Posted December 20th 2010, 1:56pm
Thanks to this thread, we had a thin crust pepperoni, sausage, and green pepper from Salerno's on Grove this weekend and it decisively topped Jimmy's for best pizza we've had delivered to the house (SW quadrant of Oak Park). I called both Villa Nova and Salerno's on the offchance either might come this far; no dice with VN, but Salerno's was chomping at the bit to have my business instead of "you're near the Roosevelt one, right? <audible snort>." Ideal balance of cheese and toppings, buttery, crispy crust, and distinctive, fresh sausage. It puts the cardboard, pallid, saltless, stale pitachip of a crust from the Oak Park Salerno's to shame.

At the same time, we made the mistake of ordering an antipasto salad, and that was not an improvement on other area options. In fact, it was just as decisively the worst salad I've had this year, and possibly the decade; it would have been better to light the $10 on fire or jam it down the disposal, as this salad went straight from table to trash. It was delivered warm (not lukewarm - actually radiating heat), but that aside, had industrial bag flavor and rust, carelessly chopped meats not of the same caliber as those used on the pizza, undrained canned olives, pepperoncini stems (not the whole peppers, just the caps and stems), and waxy processed mozzarella slices (again, wtf? cheese on the pie was great). Buried in the salad itself and dripping with murky warm olive juice was a plastic cup of flavorless oil.

Iced tea was fine.
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#14
Posted December 20th 2010, 2:21pm
This pizza eating business is a funny one. I went to Salerno's last week, after visiting one of my favorite shops, Berwyn's Toys and Trains. I gotta say, it was a big let down for me. The "thin" crust wasn't all that thin (I made it very clear we wanted the THIN crust version). It had too much cheese, which rendered its ample grease on top. Worst part, was lack of flavor. I was using the red pepper flakes, oregano, AND the parm. cheese shakers to give this thing some taste. Not a good sign.

Service was kind of disinterested. The servers and bartenders spent most of the time huddled in the corner chatting. Cannolo was good. Beer list was bad.
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#15
Posted December 20th 2010, 3:37pm
Teatpuller / Santander
What days did you get your pies? I gotta wonder if kitchen crews are throwing out vastly different products, and I would be pissed off if I got a bad pie for the prices they are charging over there. I can say that my two great pies were both on Friday nights. Also, I passed some time waiting for the pies to be done in that Berwyn Train store too! Seebee junior almost lost his mind when he saw the Thomas set up they have in there!
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#16
Posted December 20th 2010, 5:24pm
I hate to tell you this seebee, but I was there last Friday. It was early...maybe 5:15. Maybe the oven hadn't preheated yet(?). I dunno.

I have to say your pictures looked better than my pizza.

(side note): Some places cook their green peppers before putting them on the pizza. I love that (stuff). These green peppers still had a little crunch to them, which I don't really like. I hate raw green peppers, but love soft and mushy ones.

I ordered the fried zucchini app, which I am a sucker for. Large portion, home-made, lava-hot. Not bad.
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#17
Posted December 20th 2010, 6:29pm
No data help here, unfortunately - our magic pizza was from later the same night (Friday). I actually thought ours was thinner and fuller distance (browned) than your photographs, so the variability seems to be in the same kitchen shift. Green peppers were not pre-cooked, agreed, but I thought the pizza benefited from that contrast with the oily meats. I liked the sauce better than Jimmy's and there was less variation in topping quality and doneness. It actually reminded me somewhat of Marie's, where I would go (with Homewood or pre-exile Villa Park Aurelio's) regularly if they were closer for this style. We did not specify, but it seems like ordering well-done at many places is the way to go for the thin we all crave.
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#18
Posted December 21st 2010, 10:48am
Perhaps it's possible that we just have different tastes in pizza, tho it sounds that teatp got a thickerish crust, and teatp also says that my pics look different from what they got, so maybe the amateur pizza staff was on earlier in the night. I don't know, but I won't rule out anything. Santander, glad they brought their A game for your pie. Salad sounded dreadful, yet mildly comical (pepper stems - HA! Sounds like the driver had a snack on the way?) TeatP, I probably wouldn't give them a second chance if I were you given the amt of decent places in the area, but I will reiterate, that I really think they put out a great, super crunchy, thin crust, loaded with cheese and decent snausage pie - when you get a decent one.

Idea - perhaps a pizza throwdown of sorts? Blind tastings of several different recommended pizzas in the area? This intrigues me. Even tho I'm not a huge pizza eater, when I want pizza, I want good pizza, and I want a LOT of it. Maybe an OP boys night out at one of the fancy Madison St taverns where everyone orders or brings a pie? Perhaps a Sunday football* outing?

*yeah, it's basically just an excuse to drink a beer or two and eat pizza for lunch on a Sunday.
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#19
Posted December 21st 2010, 3:53pm
The Oak Park Boys could head down to Berwyn for a road trip at some point. Villa Nova followed up by SoG.

My pizza did not have ANY crunch to it. Not even close. Kind of soft and bready. Yet the top was adequately cooked. A mystery. I think I may be on to something with the oven not being hot for probably the first pizza of the night.
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#20
Posted December 21st 2010, 4:02pm
That actually sounds like their "regular" crust which I am not a fan of at all. In any event, it sucks that you got the short end of the stick with this one.
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#21
Posted December 21st 2010, 4:08pm
Could be the server didn't know another version existed. She seemed kind of inept.
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#22
Posted December 21st 2010, 5:15pm
I love trying new (old) pizza joints. That being said, I live on the North Shore, so I've had very few of the south side and south suburban pizzas. I've had Villa Nova a bunch of times, but only from the one in New Buffalo, so I can't comment on the original location. The New Buffalo location is very good for this style of pizza. Even better when it's in Michigan and your options are slim.

I tried pizza at Michael Salerno's pizza in Glenview, but is it related to the Salerno's Pizza on Grove in Berwyn? The one in Glenview was simply awful in every way. I normally will give a place the benefit of the doubt if there is something that can be tweaked (extra sauce, well done, bad night), but there wasn't a single thing about this place I could tweak to make it better for me.
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#23
Posted January 16th 2011, 10:00pm
Had friends over yesterday to watch some football, and we decided to give Salerno's on Grove a shot, since our usual pizza delivery options are acceptable but never exceptional in any way.

It seems like we got pizza somewhere in between what seebee and Santander have enjoyed so much, and what teatpuller disliked so much. 3 pizzas varied a bit in thickness. The spinach pie was the closest to being a nice crackery crust, and my favorite of the bunch. I enjoyed the cheese and sausage pies, but both were only crisp around the edges, and inconsistently at that.

They were above average pizzas, especially compared to my other delivery options, but I'm not sure they were so much better that I'd pay $75 for 3 16 inch pies again. I'll give them another shot in a couple weeks and order a single pizza, but that will probably be it if I don't end up with something closer to their highs that others have lauded here.
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#24
Posted August 21st 2011, 9:38am
This place is on Groupon today. If you go and need help polishing off one of their ultra thin crust pizzas, give me a call, and I'll be there. If you get the regular thin crust, you're on your own.
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#25
Posted September 22nd 2011, 2:34pm
To continue the discussion in the PROPER thread. I have eaten several Salerno's pizza (when I lived out that way, it used to be a favorite) and it is not "exactly" the same as Villa Nova's. For one, (in my experience) the crust is much thicker. Although, if you read the entries above, there seems to be a lot of inconsistency in crust thickness. It is also "bubblier" and definitely contains butter. I am not an expert on variations in dough, but I am willing to bet the recipes are very different. Place them side by side as they come (without special ordering) and I could tell the difference immediately. Aside from the crust, Salerno's uses more cheese and the toppings are more abundant. One thing that appeals to me about Villa Nova is the more restrained hand used in applying ingredients. Regardless, like I said, they are both good pizzas, and some may like either one (I happen to prefer VN), but it is not right to denigrate Villa Nova's pizza in the Villa Nova thread just because you have a personal preference for another brand (especially repeatedly). Rather you should describe why you like Salerno's in it's own thread (and why you don't like VN in it's own thread) Just to be fair, I will make a point of eating a Salerno's pizza the next time I am in Berwyn. I have not done so since discovering Villa Nova several years ago.
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#26
Posted September 27th 2011, 9:43pm
I've had a few more pies from SoG in the past two weeks, and I finally got a clunker. About two weeks ago, we ordered a snausage and cheese, and it was a masterpiece (imo, of course.) Super crunchy crust, mid pieces had crunch, tangy sauce, ultra flavorful (not salt, but flavor) sausage, and cheese with a slight hint of sharpness to it. Just perfection through and through. Tonight, however, I ordered two pies, and I think I got a teatpuller special. I ordered both as I normally do ("extra thin crust that is available on request. I do NOT want the regular thin crust, please.") One large and one medium. The medium had the perfect crust (as I usually get) but the large one had a standard cracker crust with more chew than crunch. Not as flavorful a crust, either. The sauce was bland. Big letdown for me. No flavor, and crust was off on one. Two clunkers out of the lot won't deter me too much, but for the prices they are charging, grrrrrr. And the LETDOWN - grrrrr.
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#27
Posted September 28th 2011, 12:00am
I haven't been to this place in about 18 months, but it still evokes memories of a long time ago. My family started going to the original Salerno's on 16th Street in Berwyn back in the 1960s, when it was a bar with a handful of tables. The house crust was the killer pizza then, and still is IMHO. It's a medium thick crust that just has a great flavor. I know most of the folks on this board love thin crust, and I've gotten to like that as well, but there's no way I would go to Salerno's and get anything but the traditional house crust.
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#28
Posted October 11th 2011, 1:33pm
Had Salerno's last Friday. Convinced my wife to order the pizza well done since she likes it that way, which was met with the "you can do that?" response. Unfortunately she wasn't feeling the special request ultra thin crust, so we had the regular thin crust with sausage.

Pizza did not disappoint. It was thin enough for me, but obviously not the thinnest I've ever had. No bubbles, outer crust was crunchy and a little charred, cheese and sausage were wonderful. Salerno's has always been my go to since we moved to Oak Park 13 months ago, and it certainly earned that position after Friday.
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#29
Posted March 21st 2012, 9:07pm
Looks like new owners...

viewtopic.php?p=410163#p410163
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#30
Posted March 22nd 2012, 11:55am
That Salerno's was owned by Arnie Salerno. His son, along with a partner, opened up two restaurants-one in Hodgkins and the other in Villa Park. They both have an OTB (off track betting) on the premises and offered almost the same excellent menu/pizza as Arnie and his brothers had at the original place on 16th in Berwyn. Brother Adam still has that menu/ pizza at Salerno's on the Fox in St. Charles. The Villa Park location changed into a grill after maybe 6 months and is usually empty. I have heard the other restaurant is struggling in Hodgkins. A real shame because the menu and food was so good in the '70's, I ate there all of the time! Another original brother has a place on Roosevelt just east of Harlem.
Anyway, all of the Salerno's brothers are getting up in age and it appears there's limited interest in the family to carry on. I'm also thinking they're kind of pricey and not making the killing they did in the past. I found the place on Grove to seem neglected in the last 5 years. The whole family was raised in the restaurant business and had alot of internal problems which would maybe put a damper on wanting to be in the biz or even franchising.
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