8211 E. Regal Pl. Ste. 109
Food: 4 out of 5 stars
Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 stars
Service: 4 out of 5 stars
Imagine an 8-pound pizza. This isn't just something from your dreams. Savastano's Pizzeria boasts a 14-inch (in diameter), 2-inch high behemoth of a pie in the authentic Chicago deep dish style that is the specialty here.
"I always said if the time is ever right, I'd like to try a pizzeria," said Frank Savastano, owner. Since the 1970s when Savastano helped his cousins with their pizza business in the southeast side of Chicago, he always thought he might have his own pizzeria, but it was only after he retired from Amoco in Tulsa (after 35 years) and had time on his hands that he entered the pizza pie business. With the help of one of his daughters who had nine years' experience at McDonald's, he finally opened Savastano's Pizzeria in 2003 on 111th Street south. He soon outgrew that location, moving from a place that had 54 seats and 70 percent carryout business to his current location by the Spirit Event Center with 290 seats and only 10 percent carryout business. "We even have a bar downstairs and the restaurant is upstairs. It is overwhelming at times," he said.
The hard work and dedication has paid off in this family affair business. Frank and his wife, Jane, share the managing duties: he during the day and she at night. Three of their six children work for them: Jennifer is the general manager, son Frankie is the night manager and Annie is a server. Savastano's is a pizza destination. Walking into the restaurant, there is no doubt that Chicago is the theme here. Cityscape pictures, family photos, pictures of Wrigley Field and more give this place a homey and Chicago feel.
The Chicago theme continues with the menu, cleverly constructed with "all items having a Chicago tie with it," Savastano said. They are all places and events in Chicago: Chicago Fire, First National Bank, Conrad Hilton Hotel, Tribune Tower, Wrigley Field, Chicago River, Sears Tower and Lake Shore Drive are only a few choice menu selections.
For our lunch this day, we began with the Mozzarella Sticks ($6.49) from the Grant Park Starters and Sides.
Eight sticks were served with Mom's sauce and Ranch sauce. We enjoyed these, even the little fellow who was dining with us. We all agreed that they could have been melted just a little bit more. The Mom's sauce is a delicate marinara sauce, which was slightly warm and slightly sweet with a pleasant roasted flavor; it was a creamy puree with few spices, allowing the flavor of olive oil to come through. It was a simple and clean flavor.
My friends and I were ravenous, so we knowingly over-ordered to test some menu items. We knew we wanted the deep dish pizza, but we at least looked over the thin crust Chicago pie, since that is actually what Savastano prefers. "I would order the thin crust pizza, with Italian sausage, mushroom and sweet bell pepper," he said. That is his favorite combination. These thin crust pies are built with homemade sauce and toppings, then loaded with cheese on top which bakes into the pizza. Toppings are plentiful: Roma tomatoes, sautéed peppers, onions, bacon, homemade meatballs, chicken, Canadian Bacon, pepperoni, Italian beef, homemade Italian sausage, black olives, sautéed mushrooms, pineapples, anchovies, pepperoncini, spinach and more. Sizes are 9, 14, 16 and 18-inch pies.
We decided upon three dishes: a 10" Authentic Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Pie, the Hancock Building ($18.99); Homemade Gnocchi ($8.99); and Kid's Pasta ($3.99). The Hancock Building begins with tall bread-like crust that is filled with homemade sauce, Savastano's homemade Italian sausage, and layers of cheese. (Savastano said the homemade sausage is his aunt's recipe and is made fresh daily.)
To the Hancock Building, we wanted a little spicy kick, so we added jalapeno peppers. The menu says to allow 45 minutes for this pizza to be prepared. It was well worth the wait. This pizza was incredible. Perfect amounts of sausage and sauce were placed across the pie. Cheese, cheese and more cheese topped this pie. The entire masterpiece was a beautiful sight. It had a crispy bottom crust, crispy sides and crispy top.
Each bite was filled with a substantial piece of crust, sausage, jalapeno, red sauce and lots of cheese. My friends and I thought that even those who are not normally fans of deep dish pizza will still love this.
I selected the Homemade Gnocchi ($8.99) from Chicago's Little Italy menu. They were just alright. These gnocchi which are small potato dumplings are served with either Mom's sauce or meat sauce and meatball. I chose Mom's sauce with a meatball. The gnocchi were soft, almost mushy; the meatball was tender and lean, but with almost nondescript spices. Garlic bread sticks and the salad bar came with this meal. The sticks were hot and yummy, and the salad bar had a good variety of items, starting out with iceberg lettuce, black olives, garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, chopped boiled eggs, chopped bacon, cubed ham, sliced mushrooms, cottage cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped red onion and more.
My little friend's pasta was a bit overcooked, but the sauce was mild and great for a little one.
Savastano's offers catering and they'll even rent out the third floor for private parties. Lunch specials include a 6-inch thin crust pizza with the salad bar and the Bambino, a 6-inch personal deep dish pizza. There is even gluten-free pizza for those who so desire. Like the sausage? You can take it home by the pound. Made fresh everyday, it is $4.49 per pound.
Savastano's is a fun, tasty, very satisfying experience -- especially if you're coming for the pizza. In fact, if it were being rated without the pasta, these still very-strong four stars would easily become five, which the pies and most other of this restaurant's elements definitely deserve. Bravo.
Send all comments and feedback regarding Eats to
Share this article: