Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds)

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Mosca
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2009/08/24 13:49:36 (permalink)

Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds)

Well, to show how out of touch I am, I didn't know that there was a Chicago Roadfood Tour this weekend; not that we could have made it anyhow, because this was college move in weekend for our daughter. But since we were in the area and it was only a couple more hours drive, Sunday afternoon we drove to Chicago (actually Wood Dale) to visit my sister Barb and her husband John, and they took us to dinner at Aurelio's.

There are actually 43(!) Aurelio's, most of them in and afound Illinois and Indiana, but some as far away as Las Vegas, Denver, and Ft Myers Florida. Barb told me that the ones closest to the original are family owned, but I don't know that that is true. We ate at the one in Addison, IL.

The restaurant is situated as an outlier in a strip mall. Aurelio's Addison has an outdoor dining area that is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and thick hedges to maintain privacy, a nice touch; it was a little bit cool when we were there, so we ate inside, but on a warmer evening the patio would be great.

Indoors the place is warm and inviting, the decor a nice mix of old and new:





We were seated promptly, ordered drinks, and looked at the extensive manu. In the middle of the menu is the list of Aurelio's signature dishes, with pictures. We decided to order Chinese restaurant style; a little bit of everything to share. So we ordered a table salad, a large pizza with sausage and mild pepper, spaghetti and meatballs (the standard for any Italian restaurant), and Chicken Bouquet (I think), chicken with artichoke hearts and mushrooms in a cream sauce. Also served: warm rolls and garlic bread.

The salad was killer.



Man, this was really, really good. Obviously, from the picture you can see that it isn't just lettuce and tomato; it is stuffed full of pepperoni, pepperoncini, olives, cheeses, peppers... but what I thought made it was the dressing. Working from memory here, but it was the standard olive oil & vinegar, with garlic mostly, and not sweet (I like it not sweet). The rolls I didn't get a picture of (they looked a lot like rolls).... they were really good, fresh and chewy and spongy with a crisp crust.


The pizza came cut midwestern style, crosswise. I'd forgotten about that.



The crust is thinner than most eastern crusts, and different than New York crusts; breadier, not as chewy. The toppings were good, and plentiful as you can again see from the picture. The pizza itself is savory, not spicy; more herbs than vegetables. I thought it was a bit salty, but not enough to complain about; everyone else thought it was great, so what do I know.


Spaghetti and meatballs.



This is my test for every Italian restaurant I go to; can they make this simple dish rise above its simplicity? Good spaghetti and meatballs isn't complex, nor bland; nor is there only one way to prepare it. But you either get the balance of ingredients right, or you don't. I would say that Aurelio's has this one down pretty good. I'm not up on the different regional variations of Italian cuisine, but I would call this "traditional". The sauce tastes like it has been slow cooked for a long time, with all the flavors blended together wonderfully. Again, the emphasis is on savory rather than spicy or sweet. The meatballs are big and beefy. I'd have this again, and again.


Chicken Bouquet. (I'm not sure this is the right name: it is chicken, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms in a cream sauce)



Everyone at the table thought this was great. I have to say that I flop for stuff like this. The chicken was tender, the sauce was creamy and cheesy and buttery but not oily. There were lots of artichokes, and the penne was nice and chewy, neither too soft nor too rubbery.


I have to say something about the garlic bread, because garlic bread is usually an afterthought at a big, heavy meal like this one.



But you know that something is going on when you are stuffed, completely... but you can't stop dipping the garlic bread in the marinara and cadging an extra bite.. and then doing it again... then doing it again... I mean, it's fresh bread, toasted with good butter and chopped garlic. Again, this type of cuisine is about doing simple things right, repeatedly. Simple doesn't mean easy. This is good.


With 43 locations, I can't sit here and write that every single Aurelio's is the same. Like all franchised operations regardless of the goods offered, the quality of the product and service depends entirely on the culture and management of the individual franchise. What I CAN sit here and write is that Aurelio's in Addison has it together. We had a really fine meal with great service. I'd go there again, happily.
post edited by Mosca - 2009/08/24 13:54:07
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15 Replies Related Threads

    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/24 14:24:07 (permalink)
    Mosca, that cross-cut pizza you referred to is known as a "party cut".  The reasoning behind the name and the technique is that at a party you cut the pie into squares so that:

    1. More people can be served from one pie.

    And

    2. You can hold the smaller, easier to manage piece in one hand without making a mess, while holding your beer/cocktail/soft drink in the other.

    There are plenty of place that do a traditional wedge cut.  In fact, our first stop on the Chicago South Suburban Tour, Simply Slices, offered us an option of wedges or cross-cut.  Because we were seven people and there would have been eight slices, we opted for the "party cut" which allowed everyone to get a taste of both halves (different ingredients on each) of our pizza.

    Glad you enjoyed your time in Our Town.  Sorry you missed the Tour.  Hope you'll come back again and join the fun.

    Buddy
    #2
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/24 15:20:12 (permalink)
    During the 1985 NFL season I won the weekly football pool at work and the first thing I did with my winnings was buy an Aurelio's pizza.
     
    But to win the pool I committed an unforgivable sin: I was the only person to pick the Dolphins to beat the Bears, and you can bet I heard about it that Tuesday morning!
     
    For perspective, that'd be like Mosca or Buffetbuster picking against the Steelers.
     
    Brad
    #3
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/24 16:19:42 (permalink)
    That was a hard game to watch.  A perfect season down the drain in 60 minutes.  Oh well, at least we won the Super Bowl that year.  And Brad won a pizza, so we got that goin' for us...

    Buddy
    #4
    Mosca
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/24 19:39:43 (permalink)
    For those familiar with the Italian restaurants in NE PA, the food at Aurelios's is like The Ovalon, or Pileggi's (but better than Pileggi's). The really old stuff.
    #5
    joerogo
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/24 20:09:14 (permalink)
    Hey Mosca,
     
    Great pics and report.  That pizza looked incredible.
     
    Now. I know you are in the area to move your Daughter into Old Notre Dame......Whatsamatta she couldn't get into Penn State?
     
    Just kidding buddy.  I tip my hat to your Daughter, I know she worked very, VERY hard to get to where she is at.  Congrats Buddy.
     
    Joe
     
    PS - I was at Ghig's on Friday, another great meal.
    #6
    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/24 21:32:17 (permalink)
    Mosca -

    Glad you enjoyed your visit...welcome back anytime and maybe we can break a little bread!

    Great pictures!
    #7
    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/24 21:33:19 (permalink)
    Brad_Olson

    During the 1985 NFL season I won the weekly football pool at work and the first thing I did with my winnings was buy an Aurelio's pizza.
     
    But to win the pool I committed an unforgivable sin: I was the only person to pick the Dolphins to beat the Bears, and you can bet I heard about it that Tuesday morning!
     
    For perspective, that'd be like Mosca or Buffetbuster picking against the Steelers.
     
    Brad


    Brad -
     
    You better start getting behind the right teams...
    #8
    Forsyth
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/24 22:42:55 (permalink)
    Something made me log on tonight (it's in the donuts thread) -

    Last week's NY-IL-MI-OH-NY trip included not one, but two Aurelio's pizzas.  It's the stuff that my dreams are made of because I can't get it here in NY.

    Step one: Phone Mom from the IL/IN state line and issue incoming warning.

    Step two: Pull into the Homewood Aurelio's - meet family and a couple friends.

    Step three:  Order Sausage/Onion/Mushroom pizza, extra thin crust, well done.

    Step four: remind all my loved ones that I get all the "corners."

    Repeat as necessary.  Actually, we only had it twice last week.

    NY has good pizza.  But pizza is like Thanksgiving Turkey Dressing: you want what you grew up with.

    So glad you enjoyed Chicago and Aurelio's.  Good choice :)
    #9
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/25 09:27:28 (permalink)
    All that food looks terrific, and I bet the salad was killer.  Congrats on your girl going to college!
    #10
    sk bob
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/26 20:31:47 (permalink)
    that pizza looks like the Greek ones we used to get in central Connecticut.
    especially the way you describe it & the way its cut.
     I love the center pieces with no crust.
    good job Mosca
    #11
    isabelle
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/26 20:57:09 (permalink)
    Forsyth

    Step three:  Order Sausage/Onion/Mushroom pizza, extra thin crust, well done.

    Step four: remind all my loved ones that I get all the "corners."

    So glad you enjoyed Chicago and Aurelio's.  Good choice :)


    Aaaah, chicago pizza--love that thin crust, well done, and the corners are the best part!!
    #12
    the grillman
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/26 21:36:45 (permalink)
    We used to have family who lived in Homewood, so at least one trip to the original Aurelio's was required on every visit.  Man, do I miss that stuff!  It is great.

    Unlike a lot of other places, Aurelios can be cooked at home, too.  It's not as good as at the restaurant, but it's still excellent.  On business trips to Chicago, I preorder as many as a dozen sausage pies and order them to be wrapped individually and frozen; the staff is happy to comply.  I pick them up; pack them in a cooler and head for home.  Place in the deep freeze and enjoy as needed.  

    By the way, if you go, you must have the sausage.....Aurelio's has their own blend of italian sausage, and it is great.
    #13
    DetectDave
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/08/28 03:27:55 (permalink)
    St.LouisGuy, since we're nearly neighbors, perhaps the next time one of us is up north, we should hook each other up w/ some Aurelios. Having grown up south of New Lenox, Aurelios was always one of my go to spots either in NL, Joliet or Frankfort.  Always a solid choice and that Italian sausage is pretty darn delish.
    #14
    irisarbor
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/09/06 13:54:32 (permalink)
    Great report Mosca,
    in our family, we call the center pieces that have no crust the "filets"...
    looking forward to seeing you at other roadfood events now that you have an even better excuse to get out here....
    #15
    MiamiDon
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    Re:Aurelio's Pizza, Chicago (and surrounds) 2009/09/07 07:14:09 (permalink)
    BuddyRoadhouse

    That was a hard game to watch.  A perfect season down the drain in 60 minutes.  Oh well, at least we won the Super Bowl that year.  And Brad won a pizza, so we got that goin' for us...

    Buddy


    I was at that game.  It was my favorite game of all time; very easy to watch.
     
    Mosca:
     
    Great review and photos!  It made me hungry just reading it.
    #16
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