Photo by Bob Bong
Vito and Nick’s II reopened at 9644 S. Roberts Road in Hickory Hills. The restaurant reopened on May 26.
After being closed for more than six months after the death of its longtime owner, Vito and Nick’s II of Hickory Hills reopened May 26 with limited hours and a limited menu.
The restaurant was famous for its thin crust pizza. It will begin regular hours and its full menu on Monday, June 19.
Former Chicago police officer Mick Martire owned the pizzeria for 17 years until he passed away in January and left the restaurant to his daughter.
"He created a great business and loyal customer base," said Cayla Bates, the new manager of the pizzeria at 9644 S. Roberts Road.
Following Martire's death, the pizzeria was purchased by a group of local owners who, according to Bates, “Love the pizza and the neighborhood feel of the restaurant.”
She said the new owners invested in a complete renovation of the restaurant with the goal "to create a friendly neighborhood environment with good food and friendly faces."
Among the renovations was new Edison lighting, an open floor plan and a complete redesign of the graphics and art work. New flat screen TVs, increased seating and an area designated specifically for video gaming and slots were also added.
One of the key things the owners didn’t do was change the pizza ovens. The well-seasoned Blodgett ovens have pizza stones that have been seasoned over the years. Those stones and the dough made several times a week produce the restaurant's famous crispy thin crust pizza.
“The owners are committed to the highest quality ingredients. We use locally produced cheese and sausage made within 15 miles of the store. We bring in the mozzarella cheese in five-pound blocks and grind it in-house to maintain freshness,” said Bates.
Each pizza is made by hand and baked between 450 and 475 degrees to create that crisp crust and evenly melted cheese, she said.
There is close to one pound of sausage on the large sausage pizza, which has quickly become its best-selling pie. Other specialty pies include spinach, shrimp and Hawaiian pizza with pineapple.
The restaurant features a menu focused on pizza, salads and sandwiches. There is also an array of appetizers and a full bar.
According to Bates, the chocolate chip skillet cookie with vanilla ice cream is quickly becoming a customer favorite dessert.
"We bake the cookie to order, right next to the pizza, it comes to the table hot with a scoop of ice cream on top. It is quite good and perfect to share," she said.
Vito and Nicks II will be open from 3-9 p.m. today through Sunday and then from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily starting June 19.
At present, the pizzeria offers dine-in and carry-out only. Delivery will be coming later.
The reopening created about 20-25 new jobs.
The newly opened restaurant has no connection to the original Vito and Nick's at 84th and Pulaski in Chicago's Ashburn community. It got its name when Martire was married to one of the daughters of the original establishment's owner.