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What happened to Pizzeria Uno?

I grew up in southern New Jersey, and my family tried & fell in love with Pizzeria Uno in Philadelphia in the mid-1980s. Another location soon opened in the Cherry Hill area, and we always made it a stop when we were in the area. I moved to NYC in the mid-1990s and ate at one in the East Village regularly. All of these locations are now gone, and I'm now living in Los Angeles, where the nearest Uno's (I think) is at least 2 hours away, somewhere in San Diego. Does anyone know what happened? Was Uno's a victim of rampant carbophobia? I was also dismayed to see far fewer pizzas on online menu; my all-time favorite, Veggie, is gone. I had a 3-hour layover at Milwaukee airport over the holidays & was thrilled to find a little Uno's stand onsite. It was airport pizza for sure, but airport Uno's is better than no Uno's at all.....

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  1. Well, it's still here in Chicago. You can also have it shipped to you....

    5 Replies
    1. re: NinaS

      Yea there are a couple different locations in Chicago. I'm not such a fan of the stuff though.

      1. re: Chew on That

        The 2 Chicago locations are reportedly very different than the chain that bears its name. I've never been to the chain, but everybody says that they are not the same as the original Chicago locations.

        1. re: rubinow

          That is correct. I have long been a fan of the Uno chain pizza (and back in the '80s even did some legal work for the Boston franchisee), and years ago I got to try the original. Not the same. What the chain serves is "deeper" than what most of us consider pizza, but it's nothing like real Chicago deep dish pizza.

          Also, the chain has morphed over the years and last I saw the local outpost (Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax VA) was called Uno Bar and Grill -- so they seem to be downpaying the 'za even more.

      2. re: NinaS

        Nina, out of curiosity, is Uno's regarded as a good place to go for deep dish in Chicago? I'd venture to guess that with the number of independently owned, non-chain, quality deep-dish pizza options in the Windy City, a place like this would be considered a joke. Kind of like going to Domino's in NYC.

        1. re: globocity

          The Uno's chain is an entirely different experience than the original Uno's. They tried to capitalize on the novelty and mystique of Chicago-style back in the early 80's. I made the mistake of trying the chain (in New Hampshire, I believe) and was very disappointed. It's a totally different product. The only thing they share is the name.

      3. I'm not sure what happened to the one in the East Village, it was there one day and gone the next... But there's still a Pizzeria Uno on 86th St on the Upper East Side.

        2 Replies
        1. re: southern transplant

          There's also one on the UWS, unless that's closed as well. Didn't know that the one in the Village closed. But is the one in the W. Village still open? Used to go there as a teenager often with friends. Loved those potato skins! Good times....

          1. re: gloriousfood

            The one on 6th ave between 8'th street and Waverly is still there. Spent many a night propping up that bar. Pizza ? Not so much. Ray's was only blocks away.

        2. A couple Unos in DC closed, but more opened in the suburbs. I don't go anymore since the last few times, they went overboard on the butter spray. It tasted like I was eating soggy garlic bread, not pizza.

          1. A new one opened in this area (north Pittsburgh suburbs) a few years ago. Still around, certainly. Wider menu and known as "Uno Chicago Grill" which is a change from what it said on most signs several years back "Pizzeria Uno Chicago Bar & Grill".

            I don't really think it's a concept on the rise, but I'm sure it does fine in some areas. In this area, people are still quite hot on this casual chains and wait over an hour to get into Olive Garden and such....

            2 Replies
            1. re: CrazyOne

              Sounds like they're making the same move Boston Chicken made, changing their name to Boston Market. Didnt save them from bankrupcy. Same deal with Kentucky Fried Chicken going to KFC. Now they're all switching BACK to Kentucky Fried Chicken; going back to their "core mission."

              I've been noticing a lot of Unos pizzas in the deli section of the grocery stores. Havent noticed anyone buying them though.

              1. re: monkeyrotica

                I bought one from a grocery once. ONCE. It was nothing like the restaurant. I followed the instructions, but the toppings got too browned and the crust stayed "mushy". I think it's the only pizza I've ever had to throw away. : (

            2. The one in Massapequa closed a few years ago but I still think there are 1 or 2 left on Long Island. I love their potatoe skins(it is more like mashed potateoes with bacon in seep dish crsut

              1 Reply
              1. re: linsue

                The one in Bayside (Queens) is still there.

                We haven't eaten there in years, although it was a regular spot for us when we were dating. The last few times we ate there we were really disappointed in the quality. However, around the same time we noticed we didn't like any chains, so...

              2. They have tried to become a more mainstream casual eatery instead of just a pizzeria with the Uno Chicago Grill name as opposed to pizzeria. They can't even fill the places here in Orlando most nights, which is saying something in a town where chains thrive.

                1 Reply
                1. re: coasterphil

                  The one on Long Island by the Smithaven mall has also closed. Not my style (give me Pepes or Johns of Bleeker St) but whenever I drove by, it seemed very busy

                2. I know of at least three in the Baltimore area, one in the Inner Harber and two in Columbia. The two that I have been to (Inner Harbor and Columbia Mall) generally seem pretty crowded.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jes

                    I go to the inner harbor one for lunch every now and then with coworkers. If you enjoy the deep dish style, I think Uno's is still one of the best.

                  2. There are plenty of Uno's in the Boston area, though I haven't eaten at one in years. I think it depends on whether your office is close to one. If you work near one, guarantee you'll either get group take out, or have to go for someone's birthday lunch. And why is their pizza always wet on the bottom? What's up with that?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: wontonton

                      Hmm...maybe it's all the fat in the dough??

                      1. re: wontonton

                        It's the butter-flavored oil spray they use on pans. Keeps them from sticking, doesn't burn like regular butter, leaves the dough nice and soggy.

                      2. This is purely speculation, without any first hand knowledge given by the parent company or franchise owners directly, I can only surmise the reasons......but my best guess is.....

                        The leases on all the individual locations simply expired and new lease terms were unfavorable to continue doing business. There were a couple of Pizzeria Unos located in Northern New Jersey that both ceased operating in the last few years.....My best guess is they had about 20 year runs each........usually most leases are signed for (10 + 10) or (10 + 5 + 5), meaning 10 years, plus a 10 year option.....with real estate values today, agreements made 20 years ago cannot be continued. This is the reason why the original Second Avenue Deli in NYC closed......and the reasons for the demise of The Roy Rodgers fast food chain in New Jersey..........the original leases were so low, when they expired, the landlords increased them tenfold......and many businesses simply will not accept the new terms. Some of this is a ploy to get the franchises out and bring in someone fresh and new, who is willing to pay the higher rents.

                        1. I live in Manhattan and haven't seen a restaurant called Pizzeria Uno in a long time. The location that was on 6th Ave. in the Village is still there, but it is now called something like Uno Chicago Grill. The same thing happened to one I know of in the suburbs. They probably still sell pizza, though.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                            Isn't there one on the UES (86th St., I think)? Or is it called something else?

                            1. re: vvvindaloo

                              The name change occurred about 10 years ago. I'm pretty sure it was all internal, no company changes or anything.

                            2. I ate at "Uno's" (God forbid it have a real title) recently and it was disgusting. I have never tasted such corporate, nondescript, awful food before (except at 99). I would never set foot in there again.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: observor

                                One of my aunts was Ike Sewell's personal secretary, and back in the late 50s she always arrived on the plane at Christmas with a couple pizzas from the restaurant. Even when it began as a chain, the pies bore little resemblance to the originals. I'm just surprised the chain had as much success as it did.

                              2. They're actually now headquartered in Boston of all places. And, in my opinion, they stink. I haven't been to one in over 10 years, but I remember the crust being wayyyyy too heavy and greasy. The locations out here in MA, anyway.

                                I'm no carbophobe, just a crap-o-phobe. I'd be happy if the nearest one was over 2 hrs away from me.

                                As was mentioned in an above post, they tried to change their image away from Pizza and more towards "Bar &Grill" Which is a good strategy if they're unable to improve their pizza but overall I'm not a fan.

                                1. >>. . . I'm now living in Los Angeles, where the nearest Uno's (I think) is at least 2 hours away, somewhere in San Diego.<<

                                  It was never called Pizzeria Uno in Los Angeles, as least as well as I can remember. It's always been "Numero Uno Pizza," and there are at least a dozen in the Los Angeles metro area:

                                  http://www.numerounopizza.com/otherlo...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: DanaB

                                    Actually, Numero Uno and Pizzeria Uno are different places. IMHO, Numero Uno is the best chain pizza available in LA these days, though they seem to have a dwindling number of locations. Pizzaria Uno I think only had two LA locations, one in the Northridge mall and the other somewhere in Hollywood. Both locations no longer exist. Pizzeria Uno was actually a sit down restaraunt, serving deep dish Chicago style pizza. Numero Uno is more of a takeout place, also specializes in Deep Dish pizza, though not sure if they even claim it to be chicago style. I think Numero Uno's claim to fame, as compared to most other pizza chains is a) the really thick, deep dish crust and b) the use of stewed tomatoes as a standard topping.

                                  2. Two of the three in the Dayton, Ohio area closed in the last couple years, with the only one remaining being the downtown location that for some reason local residents fought tooth and nail to prevent from moving in. Empty buildings and no place to dine after 5, I guess, is preferred.

                                      1. re: starbucksbrew

                                        I just ate at one of the Orlando locations last week, while there on vacation, since all the Phx-area locations have closed. Uno's (specifically their "Numero Uno") is my all-time favorite pizza so I get my fix whenever I can. I love their thick (and yes, greasy!) crust.

                                        1. re: mdepsmom

                                          I like their crust too. Buttery, greasy yumminess.

                                          1. re: aynrandgirl

                                            I'm pretty sure there's some potato in the crust, too.

                                            1. re: katydid13

                                              i have the "new best recipe" cookbook from cook's illustrated, and they add grated potato to the crust. one day i may get brave enough to give it a try, but for the time being i'm a total junkie for new york style crusts.

                                      2. Im from Chicago, and so perhaps biased, but I love this pizza. I live in Northridge , CA now, and there used to be a Pizzeria Uno there just outside the mall. It never was crowded really. Vons Grocery story actually used to carry their frozen Margherita Pizzas, but I havent seen them there for a few months now either. Now the closest one to LA is either in Frisco, or San Diego. The thing I dont get is now in Northridge Mall, where Unos used to be is a CPK. I know its all a matter of personal taste, but I just dont get how a speciality pizza place cant make it there, and CPK does so well. Theres so many CPks, I figured people would want a little variety, and while CPK is ok, we all know the best pizzas come from NY and Chicago, but perhaps they closed because they were closing other locations, they just werent making money, LA has come a long way in great food, but I yet to find a GREAT Pizza out here, especially deep dish.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: deisell

                                          For what it's worth, I think the BK Brewhouse's deep dish pizza is better than the Uno's chain ever was.

                                          1. re: deisell

                                            Deisell, just so everyone understands, I think by CPK you must mean California Pizza Kitchen. Is that right?

                                            1. re: Thefoodczar

                                              I think they mean BJ's BrewHouse which is reported to have Chicago Style Deepdish.

                                          2. The Uno's in Wikes-Barre, PA recently closed it's doors.

                                            1. Pizzeria Uno and Due were still going strong in Chicago, the last time I checked. The problem is that the chain does not serve the same pizza as the original two restaurants. For example, the original two restaurants tell you when you walk in that the cooking time for the pizza is at least 45 minutes. (It takes a long time to cook a deep dish pizza, even with a commercial oven, because there is so much topping on the pizza. In the original Chicago locations, it is a couple of inches thick--a real pie.)

                                              Customers going to the chains wouldn't stand for that, I suspect, so the recipe was modified in some ways. For instance, I noticed that the cornmeal crust is missing. And maybe they precook the pizzas. Anyway, it's still good pizza, but not in the same league as the original Chicago locations: Uno and Due. And the chain locations serve a lot of stuff the originals don't serve, probably because the original location pizzerias serve one of the most deep dish incredible pizzas ever made and the chain locations can't just rely on the pizzas to bring in the revenue.

                                              1. Well I will openly admit with no shame that Uno is the one chain that I will actively search out when I am on a trip (unfortunately the nearest to me is in Orlando 2 hours away) I love their Deep Dish Pizza, yes I'm sure the true Chicago ones put them to shame but since I have never been to Chicago other than the airport I have nothing to compare it to. sorry if that makes me culinarily uncool ;P

                                                I love the Pizza Bianco, which has been discontinued in many locations, but generally you can get them to recreate it if someone in the kitchen remembers how to make it.

                                                as far as the refrigerated Uno Pies you can sometimes find in the grocery stores, I find that if I cook it directly on a preheated stone in the oven I end up with a nice flaky crust and while it doesn't even come close to what you can get fresh, I cant think of a frozen pie that even comes close to being as good. Unfortunately I haven't seen those around in the last 6 or 8 months though so perhaps they are gone too?