Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria
From humble beginnings in a Chicago saloon, this South Side pizzeria continues, now in its fifth generation, as a family affair.
Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria (vitoandnick.com) has its roots in a saloon, Vito’s Tavern, that Sicilian immigrant Vito Barraco started in the early 1920s. He added food to the menu—sandwiches and spaghetti at first—in 1939. Finally, after son Nick returned home from WWII, Vito’s wife, Mary, whipped up their first pizza recipe in 1949, and Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria was born. The Barracos found immediate success through word-of-mouth advertising, which Vito helped build through his support of local neighborhood organizations.
Today, after decades of success, two Vito & Nick’s locations still exist, both still family-run: The original (on Chicago’s South Side) is operated by Rose, Vito’s granddaughter, and her son Nick; the second (in Lemont, Illinois) is run by Vito’s other grandchildren, and even Rose’s granddaughter Taylor helps out with the pizzeria. “Today, we have our fifth generation working in the business, and I am very proud of this,” Rose says.
Chicagoans also cherish their long history with Vito & Nick’s. “Before my father passed, I asked him how many generations he had seen in his life in the business, and he told me that at least five to six generations have passed through our doors,” says Rose. “(Back in 2009), one of our oldest customers came in with her family to celebrate her 98th birthday, and she had six generations attending her party.”
Rose credits the longevity of the business to a top-notch product and a lot of hard work. “Our pizza recipe has never changed in 68 years, and all of our items are made fresh daily,” she says. With her lifelong experience in the pizza industry, she advises fellow pizzeria operators, “Do your homework, know what you are getting into, and follow your heart. Be prepared to work many hours every day!” –Tracy Morin