I Monelli Trattoria PizzeriaAddress: 5019 N. Western Avenue
When it comes to pizza, Chicagoans debate the merits of deep dish, thin crust, and all stages in between. I Monelli Pizzeria, 5019 N. Western, offers something unique. Their rectangular ‘za is made to order with fresh toppings, heavy cheese, and light sauce on buttery, flaky crust resembling a dense croissant.
Like the trattorias in Italy, they aren’t going to rush greatness. This is a cozy family joint without the bric-a-brac and bright lights that sometimes detract from what’s on the table. Patrons run the gamut from families with young children and friends catching up to date-night couples and actual Italians.
Service is competent and friendly, but this is the type of place where you have to ask for the bill. They do offer carryout and delivery if you are not in the mood to linger.
There is a full menu of fish and meat dishes and many pastas to choose from, but the pizza is the star here. You can order tried and true combinations like margherita, quarto formaggi, and Hawaiian, or choose your own adventure from more than 20 different ingredients. It can be tricky to determine if you need to order a quarter ($7 – $8), half ($12 – $13), or whole ($20+) pizza.
Whole pizzas are the size of a typical baking sheet, and the quarter is enough for one hungry adult or two children. It’s nice to have the option to order smaller sizes (if you like trying different combos).
Since the pace isn’t rushed, you can always start with a heaping helping of the house salad ($6) or the bruschetta ($5). While the pasta list is with familiar favorites, I’ve always regretted ordering one of them instead of pizza. Rounding out the menu are traditional desserts ($5 – $6), like panna cotta and tiramisu, plus Italian beverages from San Pellegrino.