Just two blocks from the gates of Chinatown, Pizzeria Brandi warmly welcomes those searching for a hybrid of Italian-Chicago favorites with absolutely no Asian cuisine. No need to go to Little Italy or the big boys up north for some of the best Chicago-style pies the city has to offer – Pizzeria Brandi offers a deep dish that rivals the upper tier of the city, but hangs its hat on a plethora of little-used options.
Focaccia sandwiches seem strategically included on the menu as a lunchtime favorite, offering pizza-esque (but not technically pizza) meals like the verdura (artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, onions and pesto) and the Napoletano (prosciutto, provolone and peppers) at $6.95-$7.95. By dinnertime, Brandi's pizza options are the real treat. Start by choosing between thin crust ($8.95-$19.95), stuffed ($14.95-$25.95) or deep dish ($11.95-$22.95), and then customize to your hearts content. Wheat crust? Double the dough for thicker crust? Totally doable. Try any of the joint's 30 ingredients for maximum originality: prosciutto, broccoli, sliced beef, salami and blue cheese, just to name a few.
Decorative-wise, the good people at Pizzeria Brandi deserve a lot of credit: they really spruced up the place. Plenty of seating, a variety of food/Italian-related pictures, well-lit, economic use of space – it's not the most atmospheric or moody place in the world, but it's welcoming for sure. Especially since the tables are covered by that trademark, red-white checkered tablecloth that triggers thoughts of Italy, pizza and Super Mario Bros. Excuse the psych 101 reference, but that tablecloth makes me salivate like Pavlov's dog.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Andy Seifert