Bojono’s Pizza

Just this past year I discovered that I live very close to Bojono’s Pizza which is located at 4185 N. Clarendon in Chicago. A really great pizza place that exists just a few blocks away and I never knew it! What kind of pizza reviewer am I? My friend Jason has been recommending this place to me for awhile now since it is located right in my own neighborhood (so I really had no excuse not to go and check it out). He mentioned that they have pretty good thin crust so after finally heading north in my neighborhood instead of south as we often do, we discovered just how good Bojono’s pizza actually is. And I have happily had it several times ever since.

Bojono’s opened up in Uptown in 1996 and prides themselves on serving pizza made with only the freshest ingredients. From all the pizzas I’ve ordered from Bojono’s, I can attest that the fresh ingredients are definitely noticed and make for a great pizza. One of the first pizza’s that I ordered from there was a thin crust with bacon, garlic, pepperoni and extra cheese. Just some of my usual favorite ingredients of course. The first thing I noticed when I opened the pizza was I thought “Hmmm, I didn’t ordered crumbled sausage…” Well that wasn’t crumbled sausage folks. It was tons and tons of crumbled bacon!! Usually when I order bacon on a pizza it isn’t that noticeable, but this pizza had lots and lots of delicious bacon on almost every bite. Another time I had ordered mushrooms on my pizza from Bojono’s and the pizza was literally filled edge to edge with mushrooms. So if you like a lot of toppings on your pizza, this place definitely doesn’t shy away from them. It was a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed the crust on this pizza. It was a very light and very fresh dough where just the ends of the crust were crispy. Just the way I like it on a thin crust pizza. I also like the sauce that Bojono’s makes. I like that it is a little on the sweeter side and they use the perfect amount of sauce on their pies.

Bojonos Pizza

When we placed the order over the phone we were using a Groupon and had around $3.00 left to spend so the woman on the phone asked if we wanted a side salad or a drink or anything to go with it. We went with a side salad with ranch. I have to say, the homemade ranch dressing was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was really good! The fresh ingredients paid off again. They even gave us a mini loaf of bread and some butter to go with our salad. Even the bread tasted super fresh. I forget how much I love bread until I have a really great piece of it and just want to go back for more.

bojonos2

Another time, me and my besties ordered Bojono’s for a girl’s night in (GNI) and we decided to try the Bojono’s salad (along with pizza of course). This one had romaine lettuce, salami, fontinella cheese, tomato, celery, carrots, bermuda onion, black olives, pepperoncini, roasted peppers and comes with their special dressing although we ordered their homemade ranch on the side because it’s just that good. I literally was stealing the fontinella cheese off of all my friends’ plates. What? We all know how much I love my cheese! And the roasted red peppers, salami and pepperocini really made the salad. So delicious.

Unfortunately, this place doesn’t really have a seating area to dine-in at. They have more of a waiting area with stools. But if you get the chance to stop in, order a pizza to go or call up and get one for delivery. All I can say is Bravo Bojono’s. Bravo. I will give this pizza at least a 3 out of 5 stars


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Thankful for Langel’s Pizza this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I not only got to enjoy TWO Thanksgiving dinners on the same day but I also got to try out some new pizza on Thanksgiving Eve. Thanksgiving Eve is one of the top five busiest days of the year for pizza delivery and I’m not surprised at all. Everyone is so busy prepping for the big meal the next day that nobody wants to cook anything. This year, Eric and I went to Indiana on Wednesday night to spend the first half of Thanksgiving with his brother Craig. And like everyone else, we didn’t feel like cooking anything for dinner that night either. So we decided to go to this pizza place/bar a few blocks from Craig’s house called Langel’s Pizza.

Langel’s Pizza is located at 2833 Highway Ave in Highland, Indiana. We decided to sit in the screened-in porch area in the front of the restaurant. Unfortunately, we were sitting in the section of a not-so-stellar waitress. All three of us ordered a Gumballhead beer on draft. After what seemed to be a pretty long time our waitress came back with one draft beer and just looked at us. Then she told us that the Gumballhead keg ran out and that one of us will get the Gumballhead beer and the other two will be getting Jinx Proof which was the keg that was replacing the Gumballhead one. We all just looked at each other, wondering why she was the one deciding this for us. What is Jinx Proof anyways? None of us had even had this beer before and how did we even know if we were going to like it or not? So we asked her if she could bring us a taste of the Jinx Proof and told her that we’d decide from there. I went ahead and decided that I would just have the Gumballhead beer since it was already at the table :) After a long time had passed again, the waitress stopped by our table just to tell us that they were still changing out the keg (I graciously offered to share my beer with Eric and Craig at this point because I felt guilty sitting there drinking it in front of them.) Finally she came back with a small cup of the Jinx Proof for them to try. But instead of waiting to see how we liked the new beer, she dropped off the cup and walked away. So we had to wait yet again to simply even order the rest of our drinks. She finally returned and Eric decided to to go ahead and get the Jinx Proof and Craig just went with a Blue Moon. In the meantime our pizza had already shown up….BEFORE the other beers even did!!

Langel's Pizza

So let’s talk about the pizza. We ordered a 16″ thin crust with crumbled sausage and bacon. A fairly simple pizza. When we got the pizza, the first thing I noticed was that the entire thing was covered with the crumbled sausage. No skimping there! It almost looked like ground beef in a way but it had a really good flavor and you could taste it in every bite which I really liked. The bacon on the other hand I felt was lacking. The pizza could have really used some more bacon on there. I liked the taste of the sauce and they used a good amount of sauce on the pizza which is always important to me. The dough was nice and airy and had a good thickness to it. It even had some really nice air bubbles in it (which are always fun to pop). I thought they did a great job on the crust. There was also a good amount of cheese. It was nice and stringy and so oozy that it almost took off all your toppings with it when you tried to take a new slice. So all in all the pizza was pretty good. I would rate this pizza a 3 out of 5 stars. I would definitely go back despite having to wait a lot on our waitress (maybe she was just having a bad night, afterall.. she wasn’t eating pizza.) And in the summertime, they open up the screened-in porch area so I bet it has a really nice atmosphere to it.

The beers finally did arrive but since they took so long, we chose not to stay for a second  round. Instead, we decided to enjoy the growlers of Daisy Cutter we picked up from Half Acre Brewery on our way out to Indiana that we had waiting for us back at the house. It was a fun night of pizza, beer, chopping and prepping our Thanksgiving meal while listening to Gobble Gobble mix 2012 on the iPad!!

(Interesting tidbit: While writing this blog post I was eating… pizza. Shocking, I know! Although it was one I have already reviewed – Panino’s. You can see my review here: https://chicagopizzagirl.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/paninos-pizza-in-lakeview/

Rocco Ranalli’s Cafe and Pizzeria

Yes, we had yet another Living Social coupon to use on a pizza again. This time, it was for Rocco Ranalli’s Cafe & Pizzeria located at 1925 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. I had never been to this restaurant before and I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised to see the HUGE outdoor patio as we walked up to be seated. It was a beautiful day out so naturally we chose to sit outside. Although the hostess threw us for a loop when she started to speak because she had a very dull, deep and spacey voice. I instantly had to mock her to Eric after she seated us (because that’s just what I do). My guess is that she was a DePaul student because she seemed very young to me. I kinda wanted to grab her head and shake it and yell “Wake up, in there!” But I refrained.

Our waitress that came to take our order was just as interesting and I think she was also a DePaul student. She had a valley girl “OMG” type of voice to her. Interesting staff, that’s for sure, and just wait, it gets better! So we ordered a couple of Oberons and decided on a garlic, pepperoni and bacon pan pizza. I hadn’t had a pan pizza in awhile and it just sounded really good. While we waited for our pizza we noticed the table behind ours had a girl that was shadowing another waitress. They were waiting on a table of two guys. The guys had asked what types of dark beers they would recommend and the waitress suggested one beer that she “thought” was a dark beer but wasn’t sure. Then she proceeded to tell them she didn’t know of any other dark beers and would go ask the bartender. (And this was the waitress, not the girl shadowing her, the one that ‘should’ have known the menu in theory). I would think if it was your job to know the types of beers and food items on the menu… you should, well… probably know them. I hope the girl shadowing was taking good notes. Don’t need to know menu – check. 

Our pizza came and I have to say it was pretty tasty. The pieces of pepperoni were the largest slices of pepperoni I had ever seen on a pizza. They were the size of baseballs which was nice because you were pretty guaranteed to get pepperoni with almost every bite. The bacon was really good as well. It had a good smokey taste to it. And we found the best call of the night was to get the garlic as a topping. Some places will load waaaay too much garlic on. But this place had just the right amount on there. It really added a really great flavor. The one thing I felt the pizza needed more of was just a little bit more sauce. I actually decided to ask our waitress for a side of sauce so that I could dip my crust in to it. Why not, right? If Chicago Pizza Girl wants extra sauce, she should get extra sauce! So the waitress said, “Sure” and asked a bus boy to go get some. I waited and waited and no sauce came so I asked a bus boy myself when he came to our table to clear some things away. He seemed to understand what I was asking for and hurried away to go get me some. When he finally came back he brought me a side of mayonnaise. I kinda laughed and said, “Ooooh I’m sorry, I wanted marinara sauce.” And there was another bus boy stand ing next to him who repeated what I said to him and he seemed to then understand what I wanted. Finally, he came back with the right sauce. When the waitress came back to check on us she asked if I got my marinara sauce and I explained what happened. She then decided to become racist as she bashed her own co-worker right in front of us. She thought she was being funny by saying “You know ‘them’, none of ‘them’ speak english very well. I can never tell them apart either, they all look the same.” My mouth about dropped to the floor. I was like “did she actually just say that?” So rude! Quality staff, let me tell ya.

But enough about the stellar staff, I did enjoy the pizza. And the atmosphere was pretty nice. I would give this pizza a 3.5 star rating. At least you will probably be in for some interesting entertainment from the staff while eating your pizza if you check this place out. But it’s not the pizza’s fault. Don’t blame the pizza!

Rocco Ranalli's pizza

Did Apart Pizza Company Stand “Apart” From the Rest?

Low and behold folks, I had yet another Groupon-like deal (this one was a Living Social coupon) for another pizza place that I had to use up before May 24th. This one was for Apart Pizza Company. There are two locations that I know of. One in Andersonville in Chicago on Broadway and another at the corner of Montrose and Lincoln. Now when looking at the website, http://www.apartpizzacompany.com, it was kind of hard to tell if either of these locations actually had seating. But I finally did see that the one on Broadway had at least patio seating, so Broadway was the one we decided to go ahead and try.

caesar salad

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in the door. But I will say I was at least happy there were 3 whole tables to sit at since we felt like dining in instead of just getting delivery that night. The place was definitely set up more as just delivery pizza place rather than an actual dine in restaurant. So on to the ordering. The menu had a lot of great toppings and specialized pizzas to choose from. For instance, one pizza that we almost went with was called the Tricolore which contained fresh tomatoes, goat cheese and spinach. Another one I thought sounded great was the Quattro Formaggi which had brie, goat, parmesan, and bleu cheeses. Mmmm cheese! But we ended up just creating our own with pepperoni, bacon and goat cheese. When we placed our order though, I forgot that our coupon was worth up to $30! So we had to order more if we wanted to get our money’s worth. (Ok twist my arm.) So we increased our pizza from a medium to a large (since I always love leftovers anyways) and also ordered a Caesar salad and some fountain drinks (for future notice, this place is BYOB).

Our pizza came out pretty quickly. So quick in fact that they hadn’t even brought out our salad yet. But that came shortly after. The salad was pretty large and that being said, we finished the whole thing, it was so tasty. The pizza came in large New York style slices. They are all hand tossed so you really end up getting a good sized pizza which is always nice in my opinion. As far as thin crust goes, this place was pretty comparable to some of the other places I have been to. The bacon had a great smokey flavor to it. It wasn’t the small, cheap crumbles you might find on some pizzas. The slices of bacon were nice and thick and flavorful. The amount of goat cheese they put on there was just right too. Some places will load it on when you ask for goat cheese and although I do love my cheese.. it can sometimes be too overwhelming of a flavor if there’s too much of it.

Apart Pizza Company

The people on staff here were all very nice. You can tell the manager takes pride in what she does. She was very attentive to us and the other couple at the table next to us that were also dining in. Now granted there were only 2 tables to have to take care of, but none-the-less, they were very nice and accommodating there. I would definitely go back. I think I would have to rate this pizza a 3.5 out of 5.

Ernestos Pizza (aka Ernie’s)

This past weekend was opening day for the Tigers in Detroit, MI. So we packed up the Prius and headed down to MI on Thursday night. The game was fun as always. Great times with some really great people. Then on Saturday morning we continued on our way to Harbor Beach to visit with Eric’s mom for the rest of the weekend. And one thing that Eric always has to get when he his back in his home town is pizza from Ernestos Pizza. So I said, “Sign me up!”

Ernestos

The first time I experienced Ernestos was a year ago around this time when we went down for the Tigers opening weekend again. It’s a very quaint little pizza shop located in the downtown area of Harbor Beach. There’s only a few booths and tables on one side of the restaurant, a vintage juke box in the corner that plays old and new 45’s and of course the kitchen in the back. While we sat there eating our pizza in one of the booths, a family came in with two smaller children. Eric kept laughing because one of the little boys (I would say around the age of 3 or 4) kept popping up over the edge of our booth and smiling. Next thing I knew, I felt something touching me on my head….this little boy was actually petting me. The reaction of his mother led us to believe that this was a very common thing he did when they took their kids out to eat. The mom begrudgingly said “Oh no, not again!” And then they quickly decided to get their pizza to go and left the restaurant.

As entertaining as that was, we couldn’t stay and eat in at Ernestos this time around. So we ordered our pizza for pick up. We decided to order a large pizza with bacon, pepperoni and mushrooms on it because we knew we’d want a ton of leftovers… this pizza is almost just as good the next day as it is fresh. Eric actually likes it even better cold the next day.

Anways, the pizza was just absolutely delicious. They put a really significant amount of bacon on it so you definitely notice the smokiness of the bacon flavor. You taste bacon with pretty much every bite! The secret to their sauce is that it has a sweetness to it. And it has a good thickness to it if you ask me. Not too runny. I could also taste garlic in the sauce which always makes me happy. Speaking of garlic, there was definitely a hint of garlic in the crust. The crust has a really nice buttery flavor to it. It’s light and soft but has some good texture to the bottom of it. The cheese was really good too. I could tell it was a good quality mozzarella that they use. Although, I hear back in the day the cheese used to be even better. I guess they’ve changed owners over the years. All in all, this pizza had good substance to it. It wasn’t too thin but it wasn’t quite a pan pizza either. I will have to give this pizza 4.5 stars. If I had tried this pizza years ago when the ingredients were even better than they are now.. I bet this pizza would be a solid 5 for sure!

Ernestos Pizza

Homemade Pizza Sauce With a Zing!

Being National Pizza week this past week, well, what else was I going to make for dinner but homemade pizza of course! This time, I decided to try making a homemade pizza sauce for the first time. I had actually just gone to the grocery store and bought a ton of tomato products for making chili later this weekend. So since I had the ingredients on hand, I went ahead and used some of them for a nice homemade sauce because I had never tried making my own pizza sauce before.

But before we get to the sauce, here’s what I put in my dough:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup Coors Light beer
3 Tbs softened butter (Spreadable I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs yeast

So I went to work on my sauce next. The ingredients I used for this were as follows:

6 oz. can of tomato paste
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 Tbs. olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbs. italian seasoning
1 Tbs. oregano
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

I started out by sautéing the garlic in olive oil. Next, I added all the tomato products and then added the seasonings. I stirred everything together and let it come to a boil. Then I just reduced the heat and let it sit and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. It was pretty simple, I must say. Who’d a thought? This recipe made probably enough sauce for 2 pizzas. So I have plenty of leftover sauce for my next pizza.

While the sauce cooked on the stovetop, I began prepping the toppings for the pizza. The toppings that went on this one were:

Mushrooms
Spinach
Pepperoni
Bacon
Fire Roasted Red Peppers
Mozzarella & Feta Cheese

I sauteed the mushrooms and spinach in garlic and olive oil in a frying pan. Once the dough was done in the bread machine and the sauce was finished cooking, I spread the sauce on the dough which was smelling nice and garlicy at this point. I put the rest of the toppings on and finally the cheese and in to the oven it went for 18:25 minutes at 385 degrees.

I have to say I was really impressed with the taste of this one. The sauce had a sweetness to it that I didn’t expect. But the red pepper flakes complimented it nicely and gave it just enough kick. I also liked the buttery taste that the crust had. The bacon and pepperoni went really well with the hint of sweetness I was getting from the homemade sauce because of their salty flavor. I think the garlic really added some great flavor to the sauce as well. I of course love garlic so I went a little on the heavier side when adding it to my sauce. All in all, I was really happy with this one. I was excited my first attempt to make my own homemade pizza sauce was a success!

homemade pizza sauce

Bricks Chicago Pizza Review

So you’ve all heard of Groupon.com by now right? I blogged about it a few posts back. It’s a site where you can get discounts off of things like restaurants, massages, salons, etc. Well there’s another site that is very similar to that one called 3 o’clock club (3oclockclub.com) where you get a few deals per day emailed to you right around 3:00pm. Well I happened to have a gift certificate purchased from there to use on a meal at Bricks Chicago pizza. So Thursday night we decided to use it and see just what all the hype was about. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Bricks.

Bricks was founded in 1997 and is located at at 1909 N. Lincoln in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. They pride themselves on tasty beer, crispy thin crust pizza and great music. When we first walked up to the building, I didn’t think we were at the right place except that it clearly had the sign hanging above the door. But the entrance led to a dark basement that kind of smelled a little funky to be honest. But, once we got inside it looked just like your typical pizza pub.

Bricks OberonThe first thing I noticed that scored major points with me was that they served Oberon on tap! I have only seen like 1 or 2 other places in the city that serve it on tap. So I was instantly pleased. Then, I looked at the menu and I have to say, there were so many interesting choices for pizza toppings that all sounded so good. I was having a difficult time deciding what I wanted to order. We ended up getting the Red Planet pizza which included sweet red peppers, italian sausage, goat cheese, mozzarella, and red onion. We were a little unsure about the red onion so we decided to swap it out for something we KNEW we already loved… Bacon! Can’t go wrong there.

When the pizza came, I immediately noticed the delightful taste of the goat cheese. Goat cheese makes everything better in my opinion. So I was instantly happy. The crust had a nice crispiness to it and I liked the flavor of it. One thing I will say, is that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the type of sausage they used. I’m not saying I hated it 0r anything, I’m just saying that I’ve had better at many other pizza places before. Another thing I noticed was that I didn’t think there was enough sauce on this pizza at all. In fact, we commented on how we felt like we could barely taste any sauce on it at all. So I’m not even sure what it tasted like to be able to judge it.

Bricks Chicago Pizza

I have heard so many good things about Bricks. In fact, whenever I look up new pizza places to try, it always shows up near the top of many lists I find. I thought it was very good, don’t get me wrong. I will agree, they have some good tasting thin crust pizza and a lot of creative pizza toppings to choose from. Maybe my expectations were set too high on this one, but I didn’t think there was anything super special that really stood out with this pizza. I think it was very comparable to a lot of other thin crust pizzas I enjoy. For instance, D’Agostino’s or maybe a better version of Pizza Rustica. So I’d have to give this pizza place a 3 rating. I would definitely go back to try some other pizzas in the future. But for now, I have many many other places to try in the meantime!