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May 15, 2004 08:28 AM

Home Run Inn Pizza Review Archer Ave.

  • p

I just wanted to let everyone know I tried the newest HRI last night on Archer Ave. in Chicago. I have not had HRI in a few years so here are my comments on the pizza.I'm NOT a hoity toity food critic so please bear with me. A BIG disappointment! It is nothing like the HRI I knew and grew up with. First the crust. VERY "yeasty" tasting. A bit thicker than it used to be. Almost bread like. They (had) one of the best crusts out there. It was almost like a pre-made crust. Very similar to their frozen pizzas. The sauce...good but doesn't taste the same. (I talked to a worker several years ago who said HRI uses only Stanislaus Food Products "Full Red" sauce for their pizza. I'm not an expert on all pizza sauces but am familiar with many of the standards.)The sausage was actually decent. Good flavor, not too spicy. The cheese was good too. Overall I'd give the pizza a grade of C.

Maybe HRI is a victim of it's own success. Doesn't it seem that whenever a place expands from it's original roots the quailty goes down? I had a close friend run a small hotdog, burger,beef place years ago and he said many places lose business whenever they change or alter their items to save money or in his case when the supplier of many of his products went out of business. He told me that when he found out that his distributor/supplier closed the "fat lady was starting to sing" for his business. Sure enough in less than a month he lost almost 40% of his business and never recovered.

Maybe this is what happened to HRI. I hope they didn't change to save $$$. This company is a goldmine 10 times over!!! Maybe it was case of their suppliers going under or changing their products.

In closing will I go back to HRI again? Probably no and it breaks my heart to say so. I have been going there since I was a little kid to the original on 31st. Thankfully I have several other favorite pizza places of mine on the south side that I can stick with since they haven't changed after all these years. Falco's on 39th and California (very similar in taste to the old HRI!!!), Palermo's on 63st, Vito&Nick at 84th Pulaski, Pizza Castle on 55st.

Thank You

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  1. Have you been to the HRI on 31st lately? My wife and I went there some years ago, and we suspected that we'd been served up a FROZEN PIZZA, which had simply been thrown into one of their ovens and cooked. Never went back again. You mention that in your experience, the crust seemed pre-made; perhaps it was.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Bruce

      Stopped going to 31st YEARS ago when the neighborhood turned into a "hood"

      Come to think of it with my recent experience at HRI the pizza was very frozen like in quality. I had a simple cheese and sausage. Maybe the basic pizza's are pre-made? HMMMM.......

      1. re: Phil

        Went to the Darian location this weekend and enjoyed the pizza, I work near the archer HRI and will try it soon and compare.

        1. re: mrsteve

          I have ended up in the Darien location a few times while shopping with one of my kids, and the pizza was lousy. Drier, more bready crust than in the past - I agree they probably freeze them, though for a while my kids liked to eat frozen HRI pizza, and those crusts were better. Anyway, they at least have tinkered with the recipe in the the last 20 years, and expansion is probably one reason.

          31st street wasn't bad in the 80's, but I cannot think of any good reason to go to HRI now.



          1. re: dickson d

            FWIW, my in-laws live in Darien, explaining why I'm always out there; no one around the neighborhood thinks much of HRI's pizza. Most people order Rosati's or, my current favorite, Aurelio's. But, as I think folks here have discussed before, HRI's frozen pizza is pretty darn good. Talk about quality control issues: how many restaurants can claim to have worse food than the company's frozen product.

            1. re: JeffB

              Good point. I really enjoy the frozen CHEESE pizza's. Forget the sausage one's. Whatever preservative the put in the sausage makes it taste horrible!!! The only complaint I have about the frozen pizza's is that the outer edge/crust always comes out hard as a rock.

    2. Hey Phil,
      I grew up in the Gage Park area on Francisco Ave. Pizza was king. Palermo's on 63rd & Maplewood (original), Little Joe's On 63rd st., Casan,s 55 th st, (short lived but very good) .
      Now I go to Fasanos when heading back home from Ga., where I live nw. It is still good.
      Joe's Little Italy on 87th & Cicero was good too. I grew up with Joey Serio, the owner. I also went to school with Russ Riccobene, but since hid dad died years ago and they left 26 th st. it is not quite the same.
      Anyway, I am in the process of making a deep dish pizza this weekend and am going to try it with a Home run in crust made by me. First attempt but I am desperate for something good. I know I can beat any frozen or local pizza easily.
      Well, good luck and go to Fasano's on 85th & Roberts rd. if you have not been there.

      Little Joes
      1300 N Cedar Rd, New Lenox, IL 60451

      1. I live in Darien, and I was once at a Binny's in Niles/Skokie area, and the cashier was expressing his envy that I got to live near the HRI pizza in Darien. I still have no idea why he would feel that way. I haven't heard of anybody having good pizza there since about 1986.