Georgio’s Chicago Pizzeria & Pub
As a ten year old, Brian Coli, now owner and CEO of Georgio’s Chicago Pizzeria and Pub, stood next to Alice Mae Redmond as she taught him step-by-step how to make a Chicago deep-dish pizza, explaining the critical importance of each step. There’s no question she knew what she was doing; Redmond and her sister Ruth Hadley, longtime employees of Pizzeria Uno and Gino’s East, had created the very first Chicago-style pizza in 1943.
When Coli’s father, Michael, opened Old World Pizza in Elmwood Park in 1989, Redmond and Hadley went to work for him, sharing their secret pizza recipe. Michael Coli made sure that his sons – Michael, Brian and James, learned from the two sisters, also ensuring that they received their thin-crust pizza education at a friend’s pizza parlor.
So, when Brian Coli opened Georgio’s in Crystal Lake in 2002, he already had plenty of experience. He painstakingly recreated Redmond and Hadley’s deep-dish recipe, down to treating the water that is mixed into the pizza dough so that it matches water from the City of Chicago. His process also involves hand-pressing the dough into a well-seasoned pizza pan and layering it with thick slices of mozzarella, before topping it with fresh ingredients and covering it with a sweet tomato sauce.
Over a million pizzas later, Georgio’s draws fans from Crystal Lake and the surrounding towns to its 150-seat restaurant on E. Woodstock Street, across from the Crystal Lake train station. In addition, the restaurant has a second location in South Barrington, as well as a thriving carryout, delivery and catering component.
Recently remodeled, the restaurant’s homey dining room boasts exposed Chicago-style brick, a fireplace and Chicago-themed signs. Customers can pull up a chair to one of the tables, grab a seat at the bar, or settle into one of the cozy booths along one wall.
“It’s a comfortable, relaxed place where everyone wants to go,” says general manager Courtney Miller.
In the deep-dish category, the spinach-and-cheese is always a top choice. So is the Papa Georgio’s, which includes sausage, mushrooms, onion, green pepper, pepperoni and bacon. As good as the pizza is, patrons have other favorites from the menu. The buffalo wings appetizer and the pasta with a sausage and vodka sauce are two favorites, according to Miller.
After 19 years in business and two locations, Miller says that Georgio’s is always on the lookout for where another location might be welcomed.
While standing in line for a table on a busy weekend night, a customer might notice a slight wait time as some of the 70 to 75 staff members bustle back and forth serving tables. But even if there’s a wait time, all customers agree that the food is worth waiting for.
“We continue to make a great pizza for great people,” Miller says.
Location: 75 E Woodstock St., Crystal Lake, IL
georgiospizza.com | 815-459-8888
Photos by Matt Haas