Okay, the time has come to start this parade of 52 pizza pies in 52 weeks! For me, there was only one choice as to where to start this cheesy journey—Agatucci’s. Pizza is something that everyone has an opinion on, just check out my facecrack post for proof of that, but I think we can all appreciate the fact that Agatucci’s is probably the oldest, family-owned pizza parlor/restaurant still operating from its original location on University Street. It’s a real...ahem...slice of Peoria history! Sorry about that, but some puns cannot be stopped!
Alright, without further ado, because as I’ve tried to explain here in the past, I have no idea what “ado” means, unless it’s a shortened form of, “Yabba dabba do,” it’s time to start the MBIP Year Of Pizza—to the MBIP Mobile!
(Note: I went there last Friday night, I usually do these on Sunday’s, but they were closed on Sunday and Monday, I couldn’t do it on Saturday, so I had to go out last Friday—we now return to this episode already in progress.) Okay, the maiden journey is going to be a little slippery. Peoria’s right in the middle of yet another snow storm. I actually called, thinking that they’d be closed, but they assured me they’d be open. And so it‘s off we go, hopefully we won’t slide off the road before we get there. I don’t recall mentioning this, so I think it’s as good of a time as any to state this fact: I fucking HATE winter! Okay, onward we go.
Despite a few close calls, including just about sliding into the back of a station wagon, the car is parked and we’re here. As you can see, the snow is not letting up!
Let’s get inside and let the MBIP Year of Pizza begin!
This is a real testament to how great the food here is, the bar is almost full! I figured I might be the only customer in here, but there’s a lot of people that have braved this storm to come and sample some of Peoria’s greatest Italian food.
I got a seat at the end of the bar and here’s MBIP pal and co-owner, Tony Agatucci serving up an ice cold beer. I’m starting to forget about the storm outside already!
Carl was sitting next to me. It turns out that we both went to Bergan High School and he’s a professional musician (tombone) who also teaches at Bradley. Very cool to meet Carl!
Patrice was seated to my right and was quite a colorful character wearing a Beaver hat and happily flipped me off for this photo. When I referred to her as, “Justin Beaver...”
She made me wear the hat, but who am I to argue about a little beaver on my head? I think this is going to be a fun night!
Alright, enough monkey/beaver business, time to get at the heart of the matter, a fresh pizza pie. After some discussion with Tony, I decided on a small Aggatucci’s Special, which has sausage, mushrooms, green pepper and onions.
Mike, who’s worked here for over 13 years is going to make the pie and said I could take photos of this pizza pie process.
Sauce is ladled liberally on the dough. Tony told me he makes fresh batches daily and that it’s the same recipe from when his grandpa started making pizzas back in 1933.
Next he piles on the sausage...
Okay, this guy moves to fast for photography. In what can only be called a whirling dervish of moves, the mushrooms, green pepper, onions and cheese are all put in place and this pie is just about ready...
To slide in the oven. Okay, while that bakes, let’s go take a look around Agatucci’s.
The bar in here is just a classic, old school bar. Check out the lit-up bottles behind the bar.
I love this vintage Hamm’s sign behind the bar! Looking at it is like taking a trip to the land of sky blue waters!
There’s tables and booths situated behind the bar. While it doesn’t look too crowded, the fact that one of the worst snowstorms of the year is raging outside, it’s pretty impressive that anyone is in here!
Here’s the dining room in the back of the restaurant.
This large dining room in the back was added on in the ‘80’s. Lots of photos and memorabilia back here.
Here’s a family Agatucci portrait from the past. That’s Tony’s Grandpa and founder of Aggatucci’s in the front row, second from left.
On another wall hangs a feature article written by MBIP pal, Phil Luciano.
As you can see by this neon sign, this is Cardinals country in here!
Love this backwards Aggatucci’s clock. Tony told me it was originally hung up on the wall in 1955.
Alright, back at the bar, I met Chris, who bartends here and attends Bradley. He’s also a fan of Mike’s Tavern, so maybe we’ll bump into him at one of our visits there. Chris told me with a smile that Tony treats him “awful!”
Here’s the other co-owner, Dan Agatucci. Tony and Dan are cousins and they’re great hosts and are fun to chat with, they take time to acknowledge customers coming and going and make everyone feel like special guests in the restaurant.
And here we have the star of the evening!
Here it is with the house tiger sauce and pepper watiting to dress it up, time to sample pizza numero uno!
I can't believe this is the "small" pizza! This is all I could eat, the rest goes into a...
Doggie bag, how great is this?
Okay, one thing I love is cold pizza the next day. So here we are the next day and let’s see how Agatucci’s pizza holds up after an evening in the fridge...
It’s just as good, if not better than the night before. The crust isn’t soggy at all and it tastes great. This was a great start to our year of pizza. One down and 51 to go! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
Three Chef Boyardees (Out of four)—There’s a reason the Agatucci family has been churning out pizza pies for over nine decades, they make a great pizza, all from fresh and homemade ingredients. And I hear that the fried chicken is a hidden gem here, so I’m coming back to try that soon, stay tuned!
2607 N. University St.