If there’s one thing that most people in the family can agree upon, it just might be pizza
Any day that ends in Y is a great day for pizza in our world, and if there’s one thing that we at chambanamoms love more than ice cream, well, it just might be pizza. 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 and beyond. We will travel for pizza.
We’ve compiled our take of Champaign-Urbana “bucket list” pizza joints along with help from our readers. As with any of our food trails, we try to avoid chain restaurants and support our local community businesses.
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.
Baldarotta’s Porketta & Sicilian Sausage, 300 S. Broadway Ave., Urbana: Baldarotta’s offers Sicilian style pizza or deep dish pizza by the slice. “We can’t get enough of the Sicilian sausage slices!”
Biaggi’s, 2235 S. Neil St., Champaign: “Biaggi’s gluten free pizza is my go-to pizza!”
Esquire Lounge, 106 N. Walnut St., Champaign: “Where do we start? My husband and I love their Bleu Pear, but it is perfect because we can design our own pizza for the kids. We also love their Greek pizza.”
Filippo’s, 2112a Tin Cup Road, Mahomet: 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 (200 S. Market St., Monticello), but Mahomet is the original. (NOTE: Cash and check sales only.) Special nods were given to Filippo’s gluten free crust.
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. Paris, Illinois boasts a pretty delicious Joe’s pie, as well. (Note: the Joe’s Pizza in Tuscola is not part of this chain, but is still delicious.)
Jupiter’s Pizza, 2511 Village Green Pl., Champaign: “We love the fun variety of pizzas that Jupiter’s offers. There is something for everyone in our family. I love the fajita pizza, but my kids love the pizza Margherita. My husband loves the pizza pesto.”
Legacy Pizzeria, 2501 Village Green Pl., Champaign: As our expert dad reviewer noted, Legacy features “a pizza that you won’t — to his knowledge — find anywhere else in C-U. I would most liken it to the type of pie produced by the noted Chicago chain Lou Malnati’s, whose sauce includes the distinctive tomato-chunk recipe.” Closed 3/2021.
Mama T’s, 144 S. Macon St., Bement: “We love their thin crust Kimbo. It is the just right combo of toppings and a crispy crust.”
Monical’s Pizza, 205 N. Mattis Ave, Champaign; 2720 Philo Rd., Urbana; 114 S. Lombard St., Mahomet: The original Monical’s pizza started in Tolono, and it certainly is a central Illinois favorite. “We love Monical’s Italian Special. It comes loaded with sausage, onion, mushroom, green olives, and Italian hot peppers. My partner and I can’t stay out of it.”
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.
Pagliai’s Pizza, 1600 Lincoln Ave., Charleston: “Hands down, worth the drive.” “Anytime we go through Charleston, we make sure to stop at Pagliai’s and pick up a pizza.”
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. Its 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.
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. We love their outdoor seating in Downtown Champaign, and after dinner the kids love their gelato.
Po’Boys Restaurant, 202 E. University Ave., Urbana: “Po boy’s in Urbana also has great pizza! We love their spinach veggie pizza.”
Timpone’s, 710 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana: “A true townie favorite.” “Timpone’s for the win. I need to make a visit soon.”
If you are in the mood to travel even further for your pizza or you find yourself in south central Illinois for say, a sporting event, a must-stop on your pizza journey needs to be Bobe’s Pizza, located in Lawrenceville, Olney, or Mt. Carmel. Shown below is their Farouk pizza with green peppers, onion, sausage, pepperoni, and mushrooms.
What should we add? Email us and tell us what makes the pizza trail-worthy: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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