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Readers' Choice: You Picked the Pizza, We Tried a Slice

This week, your local editors tried pizza from places in Frankfort, New Lenox and Mokena. After we give our reviews, let us know who you think has the best for a shot at winning a $50 gift card to a local restaurant.

This week, we added a bit of a twist to the Chowdown Showdown. We took the pizza places in the Lincoln-Way area that received the most reader reviews last week and pitted them agains one another.

Local editors Joe Vince (Frankfort), Michael Sewall (New Lenox) and Paul Dailing (Mokena) tried slices at restaurants in their respective Patch towns.

Read our reviews below, learn how to post your own and 

Parmesans Wood Stone Pizza, Frankfort (4.5 out of 5 stars)

The good: Confession time: I'm not a big fan of Chicago-style, stuffed pizza or pizza cut into squares. So around here, it can be hard to find a place that makes a good New York-style pie. Parmesans fits that bill, and let me tell you, the slices are huge! You get what you pay for. I had a slice of cheese and a slice of sausage, and both were delicious, with a tangy sauce and perfect crust. Parmesans gets extra points for using authentic Italian sausage and not the frozen sausage balls most places rely on.

The bad: The slices I had were a little light on the cheese, but that's a very minor quibble for an otherwise excellent pizza. Highly recommended!

Italian Fiesta Pizzeria, New Lenox (4 of 5 stars) 

The good: The buttery dough makes a perfectly crispy crust. The sauce is used sparingly and doesn't spill out with each bite. The toppings (I got pepperoni and green pepper) were great, especially the freshness of the peppers. The pizza also gets a nice kick from the spicy oregano.

The bad: I can't really say anything bad about this pizza. I'm not a huge fan of thin crust, but this hit the spot.

Nancy's Pizza, Mokena (3.5 of 5 stars)

The good: When the tally in Mokena was finished, it was a tie between Nancy's and , so this was a close one for Mokena's favorite pizza. I asked Mokena Patch Facebook page fans to break the tie, with the first vote picking the in. Coming ahead of a vote for Tony's by less than a minute, a vote for Nancy's sent me there to try their new Rustic Crust pizza. It had fresh ingredients, good spices and an all-around great flavor.

The bad: I didn't like the Rustic Crust. It was specifically recommended by a couple readers, but it was a bit doughy for my tastes. Since my only complaint was the crust and this is their only pizza that has that crust, I think I'll enjoy other items on Nancy's menu in the future.

Sam Langham January 15, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Palermo's at Route 30 and LaGrange Road.
Jill January 15, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Parmesans has excellent rolls & onion rings. Pizza should have gone to Tony's Villa Rosa, Fox's on Wolf, or even 191 South!
Gloria January 15, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Tinley Park is part of the Southland, our choice is ED & JOE's on Oak Park Ave. This pizza is not a bread bowl with toppings. The pizza tastes like a pizza should taste. Delicious sausage not ground meat or make believe meat, it has he best taste with fennel, the sauce is not sugar sweet with just enough placed on the crust, which is to die for. A thin crisp cracker crust, just enough sauce and the sausage compliments the whole pie. This pie is delivered to many different states during the holidays we were told. Give it a try and see what true pizza tastes like.
Darah Simon Petersen January 15, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Tony`s Villa Rosa in Frankfort Square (only) is by far the best. We`ve tried them all and always come back to Tony`s. Sadly, the Mokena location is not as good.
Jeff Spero January 15, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Should try 191 and Foxes. I count about 30 restaurants that serve the dish in the area. The "patch" needs to try a few more......
Michael Sewall (Editor) January 15, 2012 at 06:27 PM
@Gloria I do like Ed n Joe's in Tinley, but we only try one restaurant each from New Lenox, Mokena and Frankfort every week. Like Jeff mentioned, there are tons of places that serve pizza so there's no doubt this is a Chowdown Showdown we'll do again with different restaurants. The ones we chose this week were based on reader reviews.
BRAKA January 15, 2012 at 07:33 PM
In order Little Joes New Lenox....consistent the best thin crust..add fresh garlic from 63rd Vito and Nicks- Tinley ...fresh lunch buffet Beggars- thicker crust,abondanza of ingredients...Excellent Foxs -Cicero ave/Mokena Ed and Joes...Tinley Mirobellis rt 30 Frankfort sq AND DOZENS MORE!! Aurelios...dont forget your origin Nancys Monicals in PEOTONE Pizza Pete Palermos 63rd/Frankfort/Sweet sauce Please get out more... I am 250 Pounds because of the great SS {Sout side} PIE I will lose 30lbs immediately after my move.. Will miss it. I am moving North{Westchester}....Nothing beats the Italian food or pizza selection on the SS of Chicago.
Sue N. January 15, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I still would go with Foxs as the best thin crust sausage pizza. im a sausage snob, and others just dont have that authenitic taste. My next pick is the original Vito and Nicks on Pulaski...so worth the extra drive :)
William Phelps January 15, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Stay Away from Olde Towne Alot of others have Better Prices ,service and delivery for the price and the Pie is way much better then this place ...Palermos Sweet sauce Pizza and Ed and Joe's Taco Pizza rock the house worth it very much
Denise Carpenter January 16, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Enrico's in Frankfort is our favorite. I've been going there for over 30 years and have never had a bad meal there.
Fascinated1 January 16, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Pizza Mia in New Lenox is not only a great pizza, but consistent. We've ordered there on an average of once a month since we moved here six years ago and we have never had a bad pie. Also, the potatoe wedges are superb!
Glenn Panner January 16, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Choosing Nancy's to represent Mokena is embarassing. Really, you had to go to a chain? Couldn't go the extra effort to one of the more deserving places?
Joe Vince (Editor) January 16, 2012 at 05:30 AM
@Jill: I'm a fan of the menu at Parmesans. I think I'll check them out again the next time we do a dessert Chowdown Showdown. Also, is 191 South still serving pizza now that Jenny's Steak House has moved in? Joe Vince Local editor, Frankfort
Joe Vince (Editor) January 16, 2012 at 05:35 AM
@Denise Carpenter: I've had other dishes at Enrico's, but not the pizza. Need to put that on my list. Joe Vince Local editor, Frankfort
Don Labriola January 16, 2012 at 06:27 AM
Frozen sausage balls? Guys, this isn't central Oklahoma, pizza places out here either make their own sausage or get it delivered fresh. Whomever fed you that line played a mean joke on you.
Jill January 16, 2012 at 06:37 AM
@ Joe 191 South is suppose to still be serving Joe's pizza even though Jenny's moved in. I honestly haven't had a chance to go there since, but that is what the servers told me (the night before they switched to the Jenny's menu). @Denise I forgot about Enrico's! That was great when the kids were small. If you went there to eat, they would bring out a hunk of fresh pizza crust dough for the kids to play with like play-doh.
Joe Vince (Editor) January 16, 2012 at 06:38 AM
@Glenn Panner: Like Michael said up top, readers decided which pizza places we should check out this go around. We asked New Lenox, Mokena and Frankfort residents to post reviews of their favorite spots to get pizza, and we would visit them for this Showdown. But trust me, I think we'll be revisiting pizza again in some fashion. Joe Vince Local editor, Frankfort
Glenn Panner January 16, 2012 at 02:01 PM
@Joe, I certainly understand the reasoning. Unfortunately, it is the same reasoning that when you see people voting for the best Italian food, it is how Olive Garden and places of that ilk get on top. McDonalds sells more burgers than anyone, but would it be your choice for a best burger? I was hoping for better. Just because it is the best known place doesn't make it the best food. I have nothing against Nancy's, and actually enjoy their pizza. But to compare it to an independent mom and pop type pizzeria doesn't seem to be right. I would think that highlighting the small restaurants in New Lenox, Mokena, and Frankfort that make our towns unique would be more of the goal.
Don Labriola January 16, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Glenn, although Nancy's Pizza may be a franchisee it is owned and operated by a local Mokena family, including a mom and a pop. As a matter of fact, they are quite active in the community and frequently donate their time and money to events and charities in town.
Glenn Panner January 16, 2012 at 04:26 PM
@Don, I am sure that you are correct and the franchise owners are wonderful people that do great work in the community. I certainly am not trying to imply otherwise. However, as you pointed out, it is a franchise and therefore not unique. My preference (and it is just one person's opinion) is to focus on independents. You can go to any number of towns and have a Nancy's pizza. You will essentially get the same product in Mokena, as you would in Orland Park, or Tinley, or anywhere else. That doesn't make it a bad product, as I said upthread, I like their pizza. When someone asks me where to go in Frankfort for a pizza, I enjoy telling them about Parmesan's, mainly because they are really good, but also because I know that they won't have a Parmesan's where they are from and are more likely to have appreciation for our town.
Patrick sullivan January 16, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I know this is a Mokena,Frankfort and New Lenox opinion poll,but the best pizza in our area belongs to Arrenello's Pizza in Tinley Park off Lagrange Ave.The crust is awesome,the sauce is sweet and the sausage is fantastic!!! I highly recommend this place!!Its delivery only but its a KILLER PIE! I have eaten all the forementioned pixxa and its all good,But This Pizza is HANDS DOWN THE BEST!
Don Labriola January 16, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Delete Don Labriola 11:06 am on Monday, January 16, 2012 Glenn, first let me disclose that growing up my parents ran a mom and pop pizza place, so I have a somewhat unique perspective on the subject. Going with your definition pizza shops in Mokena may not qualify for this competition. All of the current pizza purveyors in Mokena are connected to a larger organization. Tony's Villa Rosa is one of three family owned locations. The rest, Giordano's, Beggar's, Nancy's, Rosati's, Aurelio's and Domino's have alliances with larger groups. Until recently Paul E's Place on Front Street was still using the original A Pizza recipe but they are looking at their business model and may make some changes. Your positive support of "the little guy - independent owner" is admirable but in reality a shop like Parmesans has a distinct advantage as they can tinker and experiment with their product any way they choose. Obviously the chain affiliates are limited in that respect. The editors of the Patch really didn't have much choice to try out a mom and pop pizza place in Mokena. Reply
Glenn Panner January 16, 2012 at 06:05 PM
@Don, your point on what makes up a chain is a very good one. Tony's (3) family owned stores to me would not be a chain, where is the line drawn though? Perhaps at franchising since the original owner does not have complete control of the franchises? Chains out of necessity make some sacrifices in quality for mass quantity and repeatability. To say that places like Parmesan's have an easier time changing their recipe is not something I would agree with. I don't see Michael as having a ton of spare time, while most of the larger chains have test kitchens and R+D departments to try things.
Gloria January 16, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Well it seems that we sure have a contest going on for the best pizza in the Southland. Fox's in Orland has wonderful pizza but the one on Wolf not so much. If you ask me it is a prepared crust, not homemade. The same goes for Vito and Nick's when it was in New Lenox, great pizza, now in Tinely, prepared crust if you ask me. I could be wrong but looking at the bottom of the crust gives you a clue, holes punched in the bottom of the crust will give you an idea if it is a fresh or a frozen crust.
Paul Dailing January 16, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I guess I'm a little late to this party considering it was my decision to include Nancy's in the voting for best pizza in Mokena. Most of this has already been said, but I want to offer it again not to repeat it, but just to explain what my reasoning was. Although several of these places are chains, the franchisees are local people who bring money and jobs into the community. Similarly, as Don pointed out, all these places are connected to out-of-town pizza spots. Tony's has three locations (Mokena, Frankfort and Chicago Heights), as does Fox's on Wolf (Mokena, Batavia and Orland Park). You can see the initial poll here: http://mokena.patch.com/articles/who-dishes-out-the-best-pizza-in-mokena Glenn, you asked where to draw the line. I asked myself that too before deciding it wasn't up to me to draw the line for a poll of local businesses. I figured it wasn't up to me to determine which businesses should get highlighted and which pizza residents could like. I know that's not what you're saying, Glenn; I'm just explaining the thought processes that went into this. After that, readers chose Nancy's. Either way, I'm glad that this article has gotten people talking about locally owned businesses. More importantly, I'm glad no one voted for Domino's. Hopefully, this explains a bit why the poll took the form it did. All the best, Paul Dailing Editor, Mokena Patch
N Yan January 16, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Parmesean's does have good pizza however it's more of a flat bread type pizza. Otherwise, Pizza Mia - hands down. The Italian Beef/Green Pepper pizza is THE best. Next up, is Italian Fiesta Pizzeria. We always order from these too :) We just had Nancy's a few nights ago because we had Boy Scout certificates to use and just not a big fan.
Don Labriola January 17, 2012 at 02:26 AM
I've said before and I will say it again. Mokena Illinois is THE PIZZA CAPITAL OF THE MIDWEST! (See"I Love Mokena" column from August 29)
Michael Sewall (Editor) January 24, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Hi Patrick, thank you for reading! You won a random drawing today that makes you a *finalist* for the $50 gift card. In a couple weeks we'll conduct another random drawing among the four finalists.
Sal February 08, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Palermos Pizza in Frankfort is one of the best pizzas around. They are family run and take pride in their food.
Sal February 08, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Braka if your moving to Westchester try Rockys Pizza 1/2 block west of LaGrange on Cermak can’t go wrong

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