Chicagoans can fall in love with a decades-old suburban institution as Nick’s Pizza & Pub brings its signature pizza concept to the city with a brand-new location that opened in October. Nick’s Pizza & Pub’s Chicago opening delivers a new, family-friendly addition to the evolving dining scene in Lincoln Square, marking a new chapter for the restaurant with a transition from suburban pizza staple to dynamic urban pizza mecca.
Nick’s Pizza & Pub follows the motto of “pizza on purpose,” operating a values-driven and family-focused brand built upon the framework of community. CEO and Founder, Nick Sarillo, supplies the communities he serves with an unforgettable place for families to relax and have fun. Nick’s Pizza & Pub’s original location in Crystal Lake has solidified the restaurant’s status as a Chicago suburban institution since opening in 1995, and, upon the Elgin location opening in 2005, the brand solidified its role as a favorite Chicagoland dining destination.
“We’re thrilled to bring Nick’s Pizza & Pub and our purpose-driven culture to Chicago, and to offer a new dining option for the Lincoln Square community and beyond,” shares owner Nick Sarillo. “We are certain that the Nick’s Pizza & Pub culture will translate wonderfully with the diners in the city and we can’t wait to introduce our signature pizza and unparalleled dining experience to a new generation of life-long Nick’s Pizza & Pub fans.”
Nick’s Pizza & Pub’s award-winning thin crust pizza is at the center of the menu, featuring only fresh ingredients and sacred family recipes. With both curated and build-your-own options, all pizzas on the menu promise generous toppings that are spread out evenly over the pizza ensuring a “bit in every bite.” Thin crust pizzas come in individual (9”), medium (12”), and large (14”), and double decker pizzas are offered in medium or large.
Top selling specialty pizzas include the Nick’s Special with cheese, sausage, mushrooms, onion and green pepper, The MEAT’ZA with American bacon, pepperoni, sausage, garlic and mozzarella cheese and Mexican Pizza with taco sauce, seasoned ground beef, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, green onion, tomatoes, black olives and jalapeno peppers. Accompanying the specialty pies, are an array of “munchies,” including soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, and dessert.
Nick’s Pizza & Pub’s Chicago location offers guests the signature interior design that has made dining at the restaurant an unparalleled experience, while offering unique design elements singular to the Chicago location. With the goal of paying homage to the community the restaurant will serve, owner Nick Sarillo used repurposed wood and materials popular at the time of the original building’s construction to build out the restaurant’s interiors. He also designed the space to emulate the industrial warehouse aesthetic of the original building and neighboring buildings of Lincoln Square when they were first constructed. Guests will also find the signature details they’ve grown to love at Nick’s Pizza & Pub including unlimited complimentary peanuts and the ability to throw the shells on the floor, peanut tables, heavy doors, a spacious fireplace, fish tanks filled with a colorful assortment of fish, and vintage phone booths.
When I ate at the restaurant, I had the honor of meeting Nick in person. Down to earth with a friendly smile, Nick walks from table to table, chatting with his customers and making sure everyone has a pleasant dining experience.
After I met him, my guest and I enjoyed the satisfying crunch of peanut shells on the floor as we walked to our table. Each table is given a basket of shelled peanuts. You take off the shell, eat the peanut, and are encouraged to throw the shells on the floor. The table was even filled with peanuts!
Our server, John, was polite, professional and recommended to us the specials of the evening. We took most of his recommendations including an appetizer of fresh bruschetta and warm crusty bread; fried breaded mushrooms with ranch dressing for dipping, the classic margarita flatbread; a double decker pizza with mushrooms, onions and green peppers; and a perfect finale of the restaurant’s specialty, the Colossal Cookie!
I loved the simplicity and freshness of the bruschetta. The chopped, herbed tomatoes paired nicely with the warm garlic bread. Our other appetizer, fried breaded mushrooms, was personally recommended by Nick himself. Non-greasy and satisfying, especially dipped in ranch dressing, we ate the entire bowl. I do not usually eat friend food, but these were a rare exception. The margarita flatbread was also very tasty and again revealed Nick’s insistence on ensuring fresh food and ingredients on his menu. It came with a thin, crispy crust with mozzarella cheese, fresh, shredded basil and juicy tomato slices.
The double decker pizza, which sounded intimidating when Nick first described it, was very impressive and not as thick as I thought it would be. Nick explained the cooking process: first pre-cook dough in the oven for two minutes; then a bottom layer of dough covers the first; the layers are finally stuffed with meat and cheese (only cheese for me). We could only manage a few bites of the yummy pizza because were getting very full.
Our dessert was the colossal cookie completed with a chocolate piece showcasing the Nick’s moose logo. We were only able to eat a little of the monster confection due to our full stomachs, but I got to take the rest home as a leftover. The warm-baked cookie, straight from the oven, was topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
After dinner, Nick gave me a personal tour in the kitchen and storage facilities. I met all of the friendly employees and they showed me the pizza oven and where ingredients and frozen deliveries were kept. Nick also showed me the ideals by which he runs his restaurants, which are prominently displayed on his wall. They give to the community; this brings the community back to them. Nick’s experience and purpose says: “Our dedicated family provides an unforgettable place; to connect with your family and friends, to have fun and to feel at home.” If you want to eat at a restaurant that is neighborhood friendly and share community values, then Nick’s Pizza & Pub is the place to go.
Photos: Jennifer Lunz
Nick’s Pizza & Pub is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information on the restaurant, or to make a reservation, visit the website or call (773) 866‑5550.
2434 W. Montrose Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618
You can call the Crystal Lake location at (815) 356-5550 and the Elgin location at (847) 531-5550.