Graziano’s Brick Oven Pizza – Niles, Illinois

Italian beef, barbecue ribs, deep dish pizza–these delectable delights don’t come close to fully defining the Windy City’s culinary scene, but they are the foods most often associated with with America’s most populous lakeside epicurean hotbed–and rightfully so. When it comes to that tasty triumvirate, no American city does it better.

It takes an excellent product to compete when prospective diners are savvy and sophisticated as is my brother-in-law Tim who introduced me to this great pizzeria. Graziano’s Brick Oven Pizza is certainly no pretender, featuring honest-to-goodness food that can be categorized only as “terrific” or any synonym thereof. A casual ambience, tables in close proximity to one another, movie posters and a cacophonous din of rushed wait staff and hungry patrons give this suburban restaurant all the atmosphere it needs. Wonderful food gives it returning patrons.

Before you even order, a basket of fresh focaccia bread is placed on your table but you’re left to your own devices as to mixing the olive oil and spice mixture in which to dunk that bread. My concoctions weren’t too bad, but not of the professional quality a trained expert might have crafted. Fortunately, we didn’t have to prepare our own meals. Graziano’s chicken parmesan sandwich, a lightly breaded, half-inch thick chicken cutlet with a tad of marinara sauce (more is provided on the side for your dipping pleasure) might be the best of its genre I’ve ever had.

Also quite good is the eponymous Graziano brick oven pizza dressed with Italian sausage, peppers, mozzarella cheese and a rich tomato sauce. Consider it heresy if you will, but it was at least as good as most of the deep dish pizzas we’ve had in the Windy City. Graziano may be a name better known in pugilistic circles than in the restaurant world, but this is one restaurant which just might change that!

Graziano’s Brick Oven Pizza
5960 West Touhy Avenue
Niles, Illinois
LATEST VISIT: 10 June 2004
COST: $$$
BEST BET: Chicken Parmesan Sandwich, the Graziano

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