I visit my family in the 'burbs twice a year, and today brought the opportunity to make my second visit ever to Carm's in Hillside, and then as luck would have it after dropping a friend off at Midway Airport...my first ever stop at the original Vito & Nick pizzeria on Pulaski. My taste buds and stomach have thanked me...other parts not so sure.
Carm's is a great neighborhood place. Kinda strangely located in the midst of suburban cemetaries in a small restaurant-dominated quasi-strip mall, it is a place I could go to daily...I just have a feeling that ALL the food is good there. The staff is polite, courteous and borderline friendly, and menu choices abound for all ages. Decor is clean, casual, and the place always seems to be busy. That being said...it was an italian beef/sausage combo for me. The Italian beef scored in the middle of the pack if I recall correctly in one of the 2 Beefathons, and the sandwich was tasty if a bit (somewhat surprisingly) greasy. I can say that the sausage does not appear to be char-grilled and is a bit more reddish than most, but my major disappointment with the sandwich was that while the bun was big...there was less beef in it than I would have expected. Carm's can't campare with Johnnie's for me taste-wise, but the place itself makes it a lot easier to dine there (plus it's closer to get to for me). The other downer for me was no italian ice in the winter...ARGH!
I have heard about V&N for years, and even made an inconvenient trek to get there for lunch a couple of years ago only to find it closed for some reason. Classic Chicago thin-crust pizza with sausage...to me there is nothing better. This is your typical Chicago-area bar/saloon/restaurant...plenty of people at the bar drinking, half the tables occupied by various clientele...almost all eating pizza. The pizza arrived to my table hot and looking good, cut in very small squares. I was a little surprised how little cheese there was on it, but the taste was right on...crisp crust, a nice full flavored sauce, and the sausage had just the right texture. A bit salty in my opinion, but a minor quibble. Not as "thin" as maybe I thought it would be...certainly not as much so as the standard-bearer of this (again in my opinion, and it may be blasphemy to suggest an out-of-state place), Zaffiro's in Milwaukee. At $11.75 for a large, it's a great value, and I promise in the future I will try to make it to the SW side more often, and that will include a stop at V&N. As much as I wanted to, though, I didn't have the balls to ask them about V&N II and the family issues. SOme things just need to be left alone, especially when I'm not traversing familiar territory.
Hoping to hit Priscilla's to try the fried chicken before heading back to SoCal.