Family gets piece of the pie with Niles pizzeria
Nancy Palese, the namesake of Nancy's Pizza in Niles, prepares food in the kitchen at the restaurant Aug. 4. Palese's late husband started the restaurant chain more than 30 years ago. | J.Geil~For Sun-Times Media
NAME: Nancy’s Pizza
SPECIALTY: Pizza, pasta and more
ADDRESS:8706 W. Golf Road, in Niles
Updated: August 28, 2012 8:56AM
NILES — Nancy’s Pizza started in 1970 when Italian immigrants Nancy and Rocco Palese opened their first pizza parlor.
“Nancy’s is the originator of the stuffed pizza,” claimed Fred Besch, who has been the owner of Nancy’s Pizza, 8706 W. Golf Road, in Niles, for 35 years. His mother-in-law is the “original Nancy.”
Nancy and Rocco lived most of their adult lives in Turin, Italy, and then immigrated with their three children to the United States in 1969. They opened their first pizzeria, Guy’s Pizza, after 18 months living in Chicago. The pizza place offered the thin-crust pizza, but in 1971, Rocco introduced his own spin modeled after his family’s recipe for an Easter specialty cake, or a “scarciedda.”
The original Nancy’s Pizza was located in Harwood Heights. The couple sold that restaurant to finance their new location in Chicago, which was much larger.
A variety of stuffed, pan and thin-crust pizzas are served at Nancy’s. Some new items on the menu include a Margherita pizza with tomato, fresh basil, mozzarella and olive oil, and a buffalo-wing pizza.
“We have a big salad bar,” Besch noted. “We have 20 different types of pastas.”
The restaurant is also famous for its calamari and offers salads, soups, veal, ribs, chicken, chicken vesuvio and buffalo wings.
The menu offers a variety of sandwiches such as a meatball mozzarella sandwich, roasted Italian beef sandwich, eggplant parmigiana sandwich and others. It also offers barbecue ribs and shrimp.
Mondays are half-priced-pizza days at Nancy’s, while other days pastas go for $6.99.
Nancy’s can be found at 40 locations across the state, including others in Park Ridge, Palatine and Naperville. In addition to its Illinois locations the popular pizza joint is also in Atlanta, Ga.
And satisfied customers are not the only ones who acknowledge the delicious food at Nancy’s.
Chicago Magazine named Nancy’s the “Best Stuffed Pizza” twice, and Entertainment Publications’ citywide survey revealed it was “Best by far Pizza-Chicago and its Suburbs.” ABC-TV’s People’s Choice Poll chose Nancy’s Pizza as the maker of the “Best Pizza in Chicago.” In 1984, the Chicago Tribune called Nancy’s the “Best Stuffed Pizza in Chicago.
“The owner and help are very nice,” said Mary Fran, who is a regular at Nancy’s. Her husband, Wayne Bubak is also a regular who even has a special double-cheese, double-sausage pizza named “Wayne’s special.”
Fran said Nancy’s is very accommodating to the customers, which is another reason they frequent the restaurant.
The couple enjoys talking with the owner and friendly staff at Nancy’s, and they have met some new friends while dining in the neighborhood pizzeria.