Cheese pizza at Vito and Nick's in Chicago

New York vs. Chicago pizza – thin vs. deep dish – triangle vs square – foldable vs. requiring a fork. The debate remains as to which city serves the best pie. Personally, I will never pass up on any type of pizza! While New York seems to receive more press surrounding their delicious thin crust pies, the southside of Chicago serves up some amazing thin style pizza too, with a handful of longtime family-run favorites rivaling the best of NYC. Chicago is well known for tavern style pizza which is thin and crispy pizza cut into squares.

On your next (or first) visit to Chicago, skip the popular tourist chains like Giordana’s and Lou Malnati’s in favor of a local gem. One of my favorite long-running family establishments is Vito & Nick’s located on the Southside. No matter how many times I come back to The Windy City, Vito & Nick’s (or Nick and Vito’s as many locals call it) will be my choice as long as they are in business (which I hope is for many years to come!).

The Story Behind Vito & Nick’s

This family-run business opened their doors back in 1965 which makes it one of the oldest pizza places in the city. The Barraco family from Sicily continue to please loyal Chicagoans and Southsiders, as well as new tourists with their delicious family style recipes. Vito & Nick’s is an old-fashioned gem – Nick Barraco once stated “We will never deliver, if they want a truly great pizza, they will come in for it.” You come here not only for the top notch food, but also the charming old-school ambiance. Don’t worry the delicious pizza is well worth an in person visit with the quality being 100x better than any chain pizza you can get conveniently delivered.

What to order

While a plain cheese pizza is my prefered choice, locals swear by the sausage, green pepper, and onion. So many great apps to choose from as well including portabella mushroom ravioli, cheesy garlic bread, onion rings, breaded mushrooms, and zucchini sticks. If pasta is more your style, the mostaccioli and cheese ravioli are great picks. The Friday Special includes all you can eat Smelts, served with french fries, bread and butter, and a salad for just $12. Add in a pitcher of beer and soft drinks and you are ready to go! In true South side fashion, Old Style is the only beer on tap!

Cheesy garlic bread at Vito and Nick's in Chicago

Note that this restaurant only accepts cash and there is no ATM on site.

What makes Vito’s great

Unique old school ambiance at Vito and Nick's in Chicago

The old-school ambiance is what really draws me in. I love that the place still looks the same as it did 30 years ago. I can walk in expecting the same fun ambiance, from the local sports memorabilia, to the jukebox, to the festive lights around the ceiling. Visiting during the spring/summer, you can expect to catch a White Sox game and during the winter season, locals cheer on the Chicago Bears. For a true Southside Chicago dining experience, there is no better choice than Vito’s. What a perfect place for lunch before/after a sporting event or any city festival. Recently, CBS viewers voted it the #1 pizza in the city – a hard feat in a city with so many delicious choices!

Old school charm at Vito and Nick's in Chicago
Chicago White Sox at Vito and Nick's

Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives

For fans of the eclectic Food Network favorite, Vito & NIck’s was featured on the 2009 episode Something from Everywhere. Guy ordered their signature cheese and egg pizza. Even more, the pizza is so good that Vito’s was featured on a special episode entitled “Best pizza” as well as the “Best of the Road” episode. Definitely get in here and treat yourself to a slice or whole pie while you are in the city!

Learn more about Vito & Nick’s

What else to do in the vicinity

The Museum of Science and Industry – The largest science center in the Western hemisphere.

Guaranteed Rate Field (formerly Comiskey Park) – Home to the Chicago White Sox.

Angie’s Sports Bar – Another great local Italian gem serving great pizza bread.

Also be sure to check out my full guide to the best of Chicago featuring: the lively summer season and festive winter season!