Louisa’s Pizza & Pasta – Crestwood, IL
- 14025 S. Cicero Avenue
- Crestwood, IL 60445
- (708) 371-0950
- No Known Website
- No Online Menu
Our first full day back in Chicago consisted of catching up with friends and family. The day started by meeting my family at Portillo’s in Crestwood. Since J and I have started dating, my brother has become a huge fan of the Chicago-style hot dog. The rest of my family slowing warming up to the unique items you can only get in the city. My mom is coming around on Italian beef and my dad….well, my dad is hard to figure out. Anytime they can come up with an excuse to make the trip to Portillo’s they jump at it. Even though we grew up (and they still live) an hour south of the city, there are no true Chicago-style places.
After that, we met with a couple whom J went to high school with. We stayed there for a few hours then it was on to the next friends’ house. We spent more time than anticipated at the first friends, so we didn’t get a chance to go back to J’s parents and relax. The second set of friends have recently moved from Crestwood to New Lenox. For those of you not familiar with the Chicago suburb layout, Crestwood is on the south side just minutes from the city. New Lenox is about a half hour away.
In the past, whenever we visited, we were treated to dinner. Sometimes we had BBQ, sometimes pizza. One trip in particular has always stood out to me. We had pizza from a place in Crestwood that J and I had driven by many times, but never actually stopped. It was good. It was really good, but J’s family has their pizza place and they don’t stray very far (with good reason, by the way).
Since we were driving out to New Lenox, we decided we would pick up dinner for once. We asked if there was anything in New Lenox that they missed. At first, there was no answer, then J suggested pizza. That perked up their interest in a hurry.
Louisa’s Pizza & Pasta is on South Cicero Avenue in the Chicago suburb of Crestwood. It’s just south of the Midlothian Turnpike on the east side of the road. Metromix has voted their pizza best in the south suburbs on a couple occasions and almost all of the reviews on Google and Yelp are extremely positive.
The building is not that big. Parking is a little tight as well. There are a few spots in front, some along the side and a fairly large parking lot in the back. We put in the order as we were leaving our second stop. All we ordered was a large pizza with half cheese and half pepperoni, but it is a Chicago-style pizza, so the estimated cook time was 45 minutes.
We first made a stop at 7-Eleven for Slurpees then just hung out in the parking lot for a half hour or so. When the pizza was ready, J went in to pick it up. We weren’t eating in, so I didn’t get a good look at the dining room, but what I saw stood out to be a very typical Italian restaurant. The space is divided into two rooms. One has the bar, the other is a family dining room. In the days before Illinois passed a smoking ban, the two spaces were probably the smoking and non-smoking sections.
It was very hard to wait the half hour before digging in. J put the pizza all the way in the back of our SUV so we wouldn’t be able to smell it. It didn’t really work, we smelled it the whole way out.
We finally made it to our destination. The pizza had cooled off some, but it was still fairly warm. We were offered the stove and microwave to reheat, but I didn’t really think we needed.
When it comes to Chicago-style pizza, there is always going to be an argument about who is best. While most people outside of Chicago think of Chicago-style as deep dish, it’s much more complicated than that. There’s stuffed pizza (Giordano’s), butter crust (Lou Malnati’s), and a sausage patty pizza (Geno’s East). Outside of the Big 3, everyone has their own interpretation of what is considered Chicago style. On the south side of Chicago, they have their own, completely different style of pizza. The cracker thin crust rules this side of town.
The thing that really defines the Chicago-style is the crust and the sauce. The crust is always fat heavy and the sauce should be uncooked before it is put on the pizza. That is really the thing almost all Chicago style places (minus the South side style) have in common.
Even though Louisa’s is on the South Side, they subscribe to the traditional Chicago-style pizza. They have a cornmeal, fat heavy crust and a cold sauce. Louisa’s pizza is more of a deep dish like you would find outside of Chicago. The crust is pretty thick….especially when compared to Lou Malnati’s who have a deep dish side wall, but a thin bottom layer.
J is almost exclusively a thin crust pizza eater, but on the way home, she remarked that she really liked Louisa’s. It’s kind of a best of both worlds. It’s a deep dish pizza, but the crust was nice and crunchy. The cold sauce makes such a difference. If you’ve never eaten a pizza this way, you’re really missing out. There are nice big chunks of tomatoes and it hasn’t been cooked and thickened. The sauce is very loose and thin. It doesn’t always stay on the pizza, but it gives the pizza a helluva a taste.
Chicago-style pizza isn’t cheap. The one pizza cost us just over $20, but it did feed four adults and one three-year old. Most people are good after just a slice or two, so that one pizza could replace two thin crusts.
I’m glad J’s friends introduced us to Louisa’s. Like I mentioned earlier, we don’t wander too far from our comfort zone when it comes to pizza. The place we usually go (Palermo’s 95th) has such great pizza, we crave it and can’t wait to get home to get one, but Louisa’s is a really good Chicago-style option that isn’t one of the Big 3.