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New York transplant to Chicago

Hello--

I grew up in the suburbs of New York, went to school in Philly, then got a job here in Chicago. I'm really enjoying the city so far and Chicago hot dogs and the stuffed and thin-crust pizza are pretty good, but sometimes I get pretty desperate for some good old-fashioned New York-style food, most notably New York-style pizza and especially some good diner food for breakfast. Is there anywhere I get can a few good slices of New York pizza here or a plate of scrambled eggs w/ french fries and a side of bacon or sausage?? I've been scouring the internet for a while now and have turned up absolutely nothing for the pizza, and the only diners I've found seem to be the "trendy" types... I'm just looking for a few slices of NY pizza and a great $6 plate of greasy scrambled eggs w/ fries and sausage... This may sound trivial and I don't mean to "offend anyone" by saying I "prefer NY food over Chicago's" or anything like that (in general I really am enjoying Chicago and its food), but I really am kind of dying here... especially when I get kind of homesick I really start craving going to a really good diner for breakfast or a few slices of pizza for lunch.

Thanks!

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  1. >> I've been scouring the internet for a while now and have turned up absolutely nothing for the pizza

    I suspect the problem is that you've only tried searching on Chowhound using the default search parameters, which only give you results that have been updated in the past 12 months. If you change that parameter to 5 years, the first six search results are all topics specifically about New York style pizza in Chicago. And even though they haven't been updated in the past 12 months, they're all still relevant and accurate, and almost all of the places are still around. You can do the search yourself, or you can click on this link: http://www.chow.com/search?query=new+...

    >> the only diners I've found seem to be the "trendy" types... I'm just looking for a few slices of NY pizza and a great $6 plate of greasy scrambled eggs w/ fries and sausage...

    There are lots of casual, inexpensive restaurants throughout the city serving inexpensive American fare, including breakfast. They're just not called "diners" here. (Sometimes, but not always, they have "pancake house" in the name.) I discovered a new one just a couple of weeks ago, a restaurant with a "pancake house" name which I've driven past for many years, and is exactly the same as a diner in New York, right down to the staff and regular customers kidding each other across the room (as well as excellent comfort food at affordable prices). This one happened to be in the northern suburbs (Kappy's Pancake House in Morton Grove), and that may not be the most convenient for you...? It would help if you mention which city neighborhood or suburban town you're in, so that we don't recommend places that are too far away from you.

    1. Never thought about this but I guess it is hard to find non-chain New York style pizzas in Chitown. The majority of thin-crust is either Chicago-style or traditional Italian. Try Cafe Luigi, Santullo's Eatery, and Gigio's. I've never been to any of them, but they are allegedly New York style.

      Breakfast places is really everywhere in the city. Which part of the city are you from?

      9 Replies
      1. re: mountsac

        >> I guess it is hard to find non-chain New York style pizzas in Chitown.

        Not true, as you can see from the many recommendations posted in those six topics on that subject...

        1. re: mountsac

          I hope this doesn't open another big debate about what "Chicago-style" pizza is, but you referred to thin-crust Chicago-style pizza and, as a lifelong Chicagoan I have no clue what that is. There is plenty of regular thin-crust pizza in Chicago, but the only "Chicago-style" I know of is deep dish or stuffed pizza.

          1. re: chicgail

            Chicago-style thin crust is thicker and doughier (but the edge is smaller) than traditional Italian pizza on the one hand, and has more crisp to its crust than the NY style pizza on the other.

            I'm not sure what you mean by regular thin crust. But places like Great Lake and Italian places like Scoozi or Quartino serve Italian pizza. But the stuff you get at Rosati's is not Italian. Perhaps it's just a matter of names, but that's what I would call Chicago-style thin crust.

            1. re: chicgail

              I might also add that I didn't come up with the name randomly. You see this kind of designation at some pizza places in the city / burbs (Rosati's being one of them). Whether or not it is legitimate in the industry, I don't know. But the difference in texture of the crust is recognizable.

              1. re: chicgail

                Deep-dish is well known throughout the country as "Chicago style".

                There are some places in Chicagoland that have been turning out thin crust pizza for many years, such as Home Run Inn and Aurelio's (whose pizza strikes me as cardboard masquerading as food, but I guess it's one of those "different strokes" things). Two characteristics that Chicagoans often find in the pizza at local thin-crust places are a cracker crust, the term often used to describe the crispier texture as mentioned by mountsac, and square cut, which of course is only how it's sliced after baking, not how it's prepared. The reason this type of pizza is not known as "Chicago style thin crust" anywhere outside of Chicago (or by many Chicagoans either) is that you can find similar pizza anywhere in the United States, so it doesn't stand out as unique to Chicago. Furthermore, the increased availability of other types of thin-crust pizza recently (including not only New York style "foldable" pizza, but also Neopolitan-style thin-crust pizza at places like Spacca Napoli) only adds to the variety of thin-crust found here, making the term "Chicago style thin crust" even less recognizable.

              2. re: mountsac

                I almost hesitate to say this, since I've never had NY pizza, but we really do like Gigio's. Sometimes there is a bit more grease on the top than my face is comfortable leaning into, but it's good. The boyfriend likes to stop for a slice while we're running errands, and I usually give a 'no, thanks' . . . but then he climbs back into the car with it. He has learned to just get two slices.

                And as nsxtasy said, the OP's neighborhood really would be helpful. My favorite diners are in Evanston, which wouldn't really help, I think.

                1. re: onceadaylily

                  >> And as nsxtasy said, the OP's neighborhood really would be helpful. My favorite diners are in Evanston, which wouldn't really help, I think.

                  I bet I know some of the places you're probably thinking of in Evanston. One of the places that came to my own mind as being very diner-like is in Evanston - Golden Olympic. Like East Coast diners, it features a huge menu of moderately-priced American food favorites (as well as a variety of ethnic foods), and is open all day long, starting with breakfast in the morning. www.goldenolympicevanston.com Sarkis is another diner-like place in Evanston, although I don't think Sarkis is open for dinner during the week. And Clarke's, which has three locations in the city as well as the one in Evanston, also fits the East Coast stereotypical diner. In fact, the three Clarke's locations in the city (Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Bucktown) are all open 24 hours, as are many East Coast diners. www.clarkesdiner.com

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Golden Olympic was the first that sprang into my mind, quickly followed by the other two, as well as a very small old-school neighborhood place that I like to frequent: Ted's Snack Shop. Ted's is fast, cheap, and serves damn decent food (though I do wish they would brown the potatoes more--they're more like hash whites--and I always forget to ask). It's the kind of place where the group of old guys at the counter, the same group that's there every morning, will give you a good-morning-nod when you come in the door.

                    -----
                    Golden Olympic Restaurant
                    1608 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60201

                    Ted's Snack Shop
                    1824 Crain St, Evanston, IL 60202

                    1. re: onceadaylily

                      I like Ted's a lot. It's very clearly a family-run neighborhood place, as you mention, the kind of place where you can chat with the person behind the counter if you like. It doesn't exactly remind me of an East Coast diner, because the menu is fairly small (diners typically have a huge number of items available), the place is small, and they're not open for dinner. It's a good place for inexpensive eggs for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch. It's a local gem.

                      -----
                      Ted's Snack Shop
                      1824 Crain St, Evanston, IL 60202

              3. Not quite the old Blue Star on West 86th but Nookie's on Wells in Old Town comes close to diner food and is neighborhood rather than trendy. Very busy on weekends for breakfast but it's where I head when I want eggs and bacon.

                NY pizza is hard to come by - and almost impossible to translate for Chicago natives. I hear good things about Piece for example but haven't been yet.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Siun

                  I like Piece as well, but it calls itself New Haven style pizza.

                  I didn't know the distinction between New Haven style and New York style so I did a google search. What I found out is that New Haven style crust is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It is slightly charred and has crunch rather than bending easily (like NY style). The ingredients are simple and it is often called "Apizza"

                  1. re: chicgail

                    I lived in New Haven for years and participated in the ongoing Sallys v Pepe's debates. I was raised on "Abeetz with Schmoz!" and it is the closest to NYC style I've found so far in Chi ... add a good splash of oil and you are in New York zone complete with dribbles down your happy chin...

                2. Just so it doesn't get buried in my post about diner-like places in Evanston...

                  Clarke's has four locations (Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown, and Evanston) and is just like diners in New York. www.clarkesdiner.com

                  So is Nookie's, which is mentioned above. Nookie's has three locations on the North Side in Old Town, Lincoln Park, and Lakeview. www.nookiesrestaurants.net

                  Since these are places with multiple locations, maybe one of them is close to our Boston fan from New York and Philadelphia, wherever he/she happens to live here in Chicagoland. :)

                  1. OK, we are also transplants from New York (Manhattan). The pizza at Coalfire Pizza on Grand is almost a carbon copy of the pizza at John's of Bleeker St. We used to go to John's all the time, and Coalfire is pretty damned close. That's the closest pizza, IMHO, here to what you'll find in NYC.

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                    Coalfire
                    1321 W Grand Ave Ste 2, Chicago, IL 60642

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: DutchOenophile

                      Wow, then I need to check it out. I really enjoyed the pizzas at John's when I visited New York.

                      1. re: mountsac

                        Are those the "classic New York style" thin-crust pizza, with the foldable slices?

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          Hi nsxtasy

                          Yes, that's Coalfire.

                          -----
                          Coalfire
                          1321 W Grand Ave Ste 2, Chicago, IL 60642

                    2. I may catch some flak for this, but if someone asks me about a "diner" in Chicago, especially downtown I'd lead them to Canal & Roosevelt at the White Palace Grill. 6000 cabbies can't be wrong and heck, I've never had a "bad" meal there.

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                      White Palace Grill
                      1159 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60607

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Deacon Volker

                        Agreed on White Palace and the Palace Grill on Madison is also a good greasy spoon.

                        Eggsperience downtown (and in northbrook) also greek diner style.

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                        Palace Grill
                        1408 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607

                        Eggsperience
                        2000 Tower Dr, Glenview, IL 60026

                      2. My far better half (3/4? lol) is a native New Yorker. He's been here 15 years, 12 of them with me, and pizza is the one thing he misses the most. That said, he has been enjoying the new Dough Boys that the guy from Mia Francesca and the guy from Heaven on Seven have opened.

                        626 South Racine, basically the Ike and Racine.

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                        Heaven on Seven
                        600 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                        Mia Francesca
                        3311 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60657

                        1. My wife is from Boston and enjoys Garibaldi's when we get up near Hoffman Estates. The owner of Garibaldi's is originally from Boston and started with the recipe from Papa Gino's pizzaria in Boston. So, if you enjoy east coast pizza, you should like Garibaldi's. That said, they do not dump the olive oil on top like some NY pizzerias do. I know New Yorkers like their pizza very oily. The few occassions I've eaten pizza in NYC, I generally have to grab a handful of napkins and press them down on my pizza to sop up the oil. I do not know of any place around here that serves it that way.

                          Another friend of mine is from New Jersey, and he always claimed the only good pizza he could find around here was from Pizza Hut (which generally started quite a commotion!). LOL!

                          1. Get out of moneyed neighborhoods: Loop, Gold Coast, Lakeview, Lincoln Park. As I ride around the city on the CTA I see all kinds of diner-ish breakfast offerings. The places seem always to be on corners and sometimes have the words "Fountain Grill" on the window. They list what's what---3 eggs, potatoes, toast, bacon or sausage, $4.98. Coffee's extra. One that I seem to pass a lot is on the SE corner of Montrose & North Sheridan---Jake's ("Only the Rooster Gets a Better Piece of Chicken") Grill.

                            But if you're wondering why Manhattan can offer short-order breakfast, not to mention very good Danishes, two or three times in every downtown block and Chicago can't, I don't know. Big mystery. Let me know if you find out.

                            -----
                            Gold Coast Cafe
                            1112 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610