If there’s one thing at Chambanamoms we love more than ice cream, well, it might be pizza. And while it might not be good for our waistline, we can say definitively that we’ve eaten at a great many of the most notorious pizza places in the C-U area.
So we’ve compiled our take of Champaign-Urbana “bucket list” pizza joints, compiled from our “experts” on the Chambanamoms staff and input from our readers. (For the purposes of our Trail, we are avoiding chains.)
Pizzeria Antica (10 E. Chester St., Champaign): The great thing about Pizzeria Antica is the cheese: you can get fresh mozzarella — the real stuff. The crust, cheeses and toppings are high-end. It bills itself as authentic Neapolitan pizza, and that’s no lie. Head to downtown Champaign for this favorite.
Papa Del’s (1201 S. Neil St., Champaign): When UI alums return to campus, there’s a good chance that one of the first places they’ll head is Papa Del’s. Known for its pan pizza, Papa Del’s reputation precedes it. The newish location caters to large groups. One caveat: On weekend nights and holidays, it can take as long as 90 minutes for a pan pizza. On Homecoming: forget it.
Dragon Fire Pizza: This wildly popular food truck is a Champaign original. With its own oven on the trailer, Dragon Fire makes delicious, custom wood-fired individual sized gourmet pizza. Check out its website and social media to find it, but it regularly makes stops at breweries, farmers’ markets, downtown Champaign and Research Park. Hours are limited in the winter, but ramps up in warmer weather. Loved by kids and adults alike.
Old Orchard (901 N. Dunlap St., Savoy): There’s a reason this place is always busy. It is a townie favorite for its ultra-thin crust pizza. Yes, it’s in a bowling center . But good news: It has a drive-thru, which is convenient for dropping by on the way home. And in addition to gobbling down the cheese pizza, my kids love their family salad.
Filippo’s (2112a Tin Cup Road, Mahomet): A Mahomet institution, Filippo’s is known for its sweet sauce and family friendly atmosphere. The Filippo’s logo is the outline of Italy, and with good reason. The recipes came from Italy with the family when it arrived in 1970. There’s also a Filippo’s in Monticello, but Mahomet is the original. (NOTE: Cash and check sales only.)
Joe’s Pizza (115 E. Jefferson Ave., Effingham): OK, we are fudging a bit here; Joe’s actually has 14 locations, but the closest — and the one we’re partial to — is in downtown Effingham. We love their “Chicago Style” pizza, which is a thinner, less-doughy crust than what you would typically associate with deep dish or pan pizza. Still has the sauce on top. Is it really worth driving an hour for pizza? Our expert says so. (Note: the Joe’s Pizza in Tuscola is not part of this chain.)
Backdoor Pizza (1000 N. Bowman Ave., Danville): Appropriately named, you won’t find it in a bustling part of town, and it is carryout/delivery only. But the thin crust pizza is heavenly, and you get the sense each pie is given a little extra TLC.
Pizza M (closed in 2018; waiting for them to reopen!): Offering an eclectic mix of unique pizzas — the popular Abbi has bacon, pepperoncinis and eggs — Pizza M’s delicious thin-crust pies satisfy eaters no matter how adventurous. My personal favorite: the Pizza M, which includes a nice helping of goat cheese. For years, Pizza M was co-located with Flying Machine coffee; at the end of 2017 it was announced that Pizza M would remain in downtown Urbana but would move to co-locate with the new 25 O’Clock Brewing Company tap room. Recommendation: pick it up and take it home.
What should we add to this trail? Add your suggestions in the comments below, or email us – email@example.com.