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I Monelli Trattoria Pizzeria

By Victoria Wiedel | Monday, August 16, 2010
Address: 5019 N. Western Avenue
Phone: 773-561-8499
Website: http://www.imonelli.info/

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.

"Gnocchi alla Rustica" with tomato cream sauce. Photo by Victoria Wiedel.

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.

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  • Bob

    We are big fans of this place. . . Never had an issue with the pace of service that you experienced and you forgot to mention the best part — it’s BYOB (with a minimal corkage fee).

  • Tom

    Also big fans…and never had an issue with the friendly and attentive service (or the terrific pasta dishes). Having the chef visit the table to check on our meal and service is a nice touch. During our last visit we had the most incredible pistacchio cake for dessert, fresh out of the oven. We will go back just for that alone. And having to ask for the bill means we are not being rushed out the door and that we get to enjoy our meal at a leisurely European pace.

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