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Connie’s Pizza

Jim Stolfe offered up his 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire to buy the first freestanding Connie’s Pizza shop in Chicago—and went on to become an accidental pioneer in pizza delivery. On June 1, 1963, Jim Stolfe purchased a little food stand from Connie DeGrazia on Chicago’s South Side. He left the Connie’s name on the storefront and…

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The Enchanted Inn/Drag’s

After a bumpy start in 1951—locals thought pizza was a type of beer—the Draganowski family has expanded its enterprise to four unique locations spanning three generations. In 1951, Kas and Clara Draganowski moved their family from the citified streets of Chicago to bucolic northern Wisconsin, ready to realize their dream of starting a restaurant. After…

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Pizzi Café

The pizzeria that helped introduce round pies to Ohio also offers overnight shipping across the U.S. Tony Pizzi, a mason by trade, ventured to America from Italy and settled in Conneaut, Ohio, where he opened a beer garden in 1934. He bricked together two old fish-drying houses and lived above the business with his wife,…

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Alongi’s

This small-town Illinois pizzeria has hosted the likes of Willie Nelson, Bob Hope, Stan Musial and Sonny & Cher. In the small mining community of DuQuoin, Illinois, Alongi’s is a true survivor: Sicilian immigrant Guy Alongi started his business in 1933, during the height of the Great Depression, and his family has continued to weather…

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DeLuca’s Restaurant and Pizzeria

This Michigan shop introduced several pizza innovations to Lansing, including the tuna pizza. Opened in 1960, the Willow Bar started out as a neighborhood watering hole for nearby factory workers in Lansing, Michigan. But the pizza they served—developed by Italian immigrants Pat DeLuca and his brother Jim—became so popular the business eventually switched its name…

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Pasquale’s Restaurant and Pizzeria

Since 1954, this pizzeria has thrived on historic Woodward Avenue with authentic, one-of-a-kind pies. We couldn’t tell it any better ourselves, so, for a change of pace, we’ll let the Del Giudice family, owners of Pasquale’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, tell their own story after 55 years of family-style service: “At the height of the pizza…

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Home Run Inn

This pizzeria, named after an errant baseball, has hit home runs in the frozen-food and family markets. Home Run Inn began in 1923 as a small tavern on Chicago’s South Side. Founded by Mary and Vincent Grittani, the tavern received its name when a baseball from the neighborhood park smashed through one of the windows….

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Aurelio’s

This once-modest operation evolved into the self-proclaimed world’s largest pizzeria—and a multistate franchise. Joe Aurelio Jr. started Aurelio’s Pizza in 1959 with a $2,500 loan. Business was initially slow at the little four-seat restaurant; Aurelio kept it afloat through sales of his beef sandwiches—only six or seven pizzas were usually sold in an evening. But…

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Shield’s Pizza

This Motor City institution is passionate about its pizza, but it’s also well-loved by the community for its heart. In 1940s Detroit, pizza was picking up steam as a favorite food. When a former employee of a local pizzeria brought his recipe to the Polish owners of Shield’s Bar, pies were quickly added to the…

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Bill’s Pizza & Pub

Divine intervention played a role in keeping this little Illinois underdog—now famous for its two-crusted Double Decker pies—afloat when it first opened in 1957. When most teens in the ’50s were cruising around town and lining up dates, 17-year-old Bill Kwiatkowski was embarking on entrepreneurship, purchasing a tiny sandwich shack in Mundelein, Illinois. He had…