Over several years living in Chicago, the hound’s mom and I ended up loving a few eateries above all else: La Pasadita for burritos and tacos; Fiore’s for sandwiches; Kuma’s and Edzo’s for burgers; Ipsento for coffee; Pequod’s for pan pizza. We were also very fond of Thai Eatery and Rangoli. Each of these places had that perfect combination between taste and value. You knew you were going to get excellent food at a fair price. And for thin crust pizza, that place was Father and Son, or as we commonly called it, Marcello’s.
Father and Son has been around forever, and it’s longevity is well-deserved. Amid the rapid gentrification of Logan Square, with its increasingly trendy selection of eateries and stores, Father and Son holds on as a connection to preceding decades–a landmark to known throughout the neighborhood by longtime residents, past and present. In recent years, Logan Square has become home to newer–and very good–pizza options, such as Dante’s and Boiler Room, but Father and Son has stood the test of time, thriving for nearly an incredible 70 years.
We most typically got Marcello’s for a night in and not really a traditional Pizza Hound run. Both carryout and delivery were very efficient. In fact, I think we only dined in there once, which is a shame, because the dining room is great. Large windows with line the front so diners can sit in one of the comfortable booths and look out onto busy Milwaukee Avenue. The walls have some tasteful wood paneling, with the typical images of Italy. There are also a number of tables, often filled with families enjoying a night out. Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert apparently also enjoyed dining there, too, and Ebert even said it was their favorite in Chicago. That’s a significant endorsement in our book. Make no mistake: Father and Son appears to do a good business.
In fact, the first time we had ever heard of Father and Son was from someone who grew up in the Wicker Park/Humboldt Park area. He was our neighbor, and a very friendly, talkative guy. We mentioned to him that we were going out later that evening for pizza to celebrate my birthday. With huge grin, he excitedly responded something to the effect of “So, you’re having a pizza party? Can I come? Where you having it? Marcello’s?” What was Marcello’s and why was that the first and only place that came to his mind to mention? It’s probably because it’s been in Logan Square since 1947, first located, according to this nice article, at a smaller space at Diversey and Whipple, and then at the current Milwaukee Avenue location where it moved a few years later. Father and Son was thus a traditional neighborhood staple, known for delivering pizzas all over the area. If we had grown up there, we’d have known that.
But we eventually figured it out, and it became one of our favorites. Father and Son serves ultra thin, tavern cut pizza. The crust is crispy and cracker-like. The chunks of sausage may not really stand out, but are definitely better than most out there. The sausage and pepperoni combination was always our favorite, but we also added onions and shrimp once or twice, which made the topping layer very thick. New York style pizza, which has a little bit thicker crust, is on the menu, though I do not recall ever trying it. The deep dish is very good, as well. Not just a plain pan pizza like many restaurants in the area; this a well-balanced, not overly-hefty deep dish with buttery crust and chunky tomato sauce on top of the cheese. All in all it had a thickness similar to a pizza from Lou Malnati’s. Some “gourmet pizza” options are available, too.
Father and Son particularly excels at Italian American pasta dishes of the red sauce variety. A basic spaghetti or ravioli dish is an excellent value and worth trying. For us, there was usually enough left over to put in the fridge and have another meal the next day. The salads are good, too. The menu is remarkably huge, rounded out with steaks, ribs, soups, seafood, a number of different sandwiches, and broasted chicken.
Pizza from Marcello’s Father and Son is also a central player in the what we shall call the “Bat Pizza Incident of Halloween 2013.” This was a legendary event, retold to this day as part of our family lore. Each year Marcello’s has fun promotions where they cut a pizza into a particular shape and sell it for a deal on a holiday. For Valentine’s Day, they make a heart-shaped pizza, which we ordered a couple of times. On Halloween, though, the real fun happens: they cut a extra large thin crust pizza into the shape of a bat! Bat Pizza is so much fun.
Well, that October 31st we ordered the Bat Pizza to celebrate the holiday. Ernie was dressed in his Spider-Man costume, with his Halloween sidekick, Frankie.
He had already gotten his “candy” bucket, which was full of treats and chew toys, but we should have known he would not settle for just “treats.” So, we opened the box on the coffee table and we smiled with recognition at the fun bat-shaped pizza. At that moment, Ernie immediately turned his head sideways, darted it forward, and snagged the first piece! All we could do was laugh.
Here’s some rare, grainy photographic evidence of the incident about to take place. Could this be the origin of The Amazing Pizza Hound???
Ernie loved it, and so did we. A superhero was born.
Father and Son has been extremely successful. Apparently, it has filled thousands of orders per week for decades. That success has brought some changes. It is somewhat corporately branded, so there is a bit of robot-like blandness in their menu presentation and on their website. Pictures of their food, while legitimate, look a bit like stock photos, and they seem to really push things like their gluten free menu. They also have locations in Lincoln Park/Old Town on North Avenue and in suburban Northbrook, both under Marcello’s brand name, which extends to their catering services. Recently, the company opened a counter-service location in Skokie under the somewhat trendy name Father and Son Italian Kitchen, which includes a solar-powered food truck! Despite all of that sucking out some of the old-neighborhood allure of Father and Son, the ease of being able to easily order from their online system more than makes up for it. Plus, you get online deals via email, which we took advantage of quite a bit. And the fact remains: Father and Son is still a family-run Logan Square institution with great, great food completely deserving of its success.
We miss Father and Son a lot. We feel really lucky that we lived in a Chicago neighborhood that was also home to one of the city’s finest old pizzerias. Pizza was the last meal we had in Chicago, but I regret that Father and Son wasn’t a part of that meal. I also wish we had more pictures of this great pizza; I guess we made the mistake of taking it for granted.
Not to be confused with. . .Martello’s.
Marcello’s Father and Son is located at 2475 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
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