Borrelli Finds the Old Chicago at Marie’s Pizza and Liquors

Photo: courtesy Marie’s Pizza and Liquors

Kevin Pang seemed to have the folksy old place beat at the Tribune sewn up, and we’ve been eating them up, but here comes Christopher Borrelli with a first-rate rival for the honors. It’s about Marie’s Pizza and Liquors, the since 1940 northwest side pizza place which drips local color, adroitly captured by Borrelli (who starts by correcting some hipster doof on Check, Please who thought the working class clientele was “street walkers and floozies”):

It is authentic Chicago, not tourist Chicago, idealized Chicago, corporate Chicago or contemporary Chicago. It is Chicago preserved in marinara sauce and warm feelings, an Italian-American neighborhood joint owned by Greeks… The clientele? Not hookers. Young families, guys with mustaches because they always had mustaches, leathery men with unnaturally black pompadours wearing satin towing-company jackets in January.


He also gets the stories behind the place— true immigrant stories, hard and unromantic except in the way that working honestly your whole life and staying married for 50 years is romantic in retrospect. And he’s honest enough to allow that some of his questions have enough 2012 hipster doof in them to upset second-generation owner Nadine Karavidas. But at least he tries to understand, to go back to that Chicago you can’t go back to. Except for the length of dinner at a place like Marie’s.

Nothing faux about Marie’s Pizza [Tribune]

Borrelli Finds the Old Chicago at Marie’s Pizza and Liquors