Last week when we went to the re-opening of Champs West bar in West Peoria, I had a nice chat with the new owner of Champs, Chris Herold. Chris and his family owned the legendary Pizza Inn off Sterling for years and we were there for the last night, just about a year ago. A few months after they closed, another pizzeria moved in to the spot called Aurelio’s Pizza and Chris asked if I had stopped in there during this MBIP Year Of Pizza tour. I told him I hadn’t, but all that is about to be changed! To the MBIP Mobile!
Off we go into the bright blue yonder, I really need to look into getting some prescription sunglasses one of these days, this shit is killing me!
Standing here reading the words, "The Family Pizzeria," I'm struck with dual mental images of Squeaky Fromme and Jeffrey Dahmer covered in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. That left me frozen here in the parking lot for about three minutes, but now let's move on and try to forget that horrible mental imagery.
Now I've spent another three minutes in front of this window wondering, "Who the fuck is Joe?"
Let's go in before I have a nervous breakdown out here!
There's the Joe I was wondering about! It's Aurelio's founder and seventh Beach Boy, Joe Aurelio, proudly holding a pizza pie. Okay, now all is better in my world.
The dining room looks exactly the same as it did when it was Pizza Inn. Sadly, there's no bar in here, so let's go sit at a booth over there against the wall.
And as we get settled in, Kevin brings us a bottle of ice-cold Budweiser. Kevin's a friendly guy and he helped me choose my pizza order.
This is the view of the dining room from where I"m seated.
I'm pretty sure this is the same buffet wagon from the old Pizza Inn days. Nice to see they've kept a chunk of the past in here.
The kitchen area is up front here, just like in the Pizza Inn days as well.
Check out the pizza up here on the counter. It looks pretty tasty, but it's a deep dish and I ordered the original style, which is a thin crust, so our pizza won't resemble this pie at all.
John told me that he constructed and cooked that pie and here he is proudly posing for the MBIP camera.
A shot from the back of the dining room where you can see Kevin is working the crowd fast and furiously!
Obligatory Aurelio's dining room mirror shot!
Dum de dum dum...the pizza you are about to see is true, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Okay, let's return to my booth, which I've lovingly dubbed, "Frank Booth," in honor of my favorite character from Blue Velvet...
And the fact that the only hot sauce here is Frank's Red Hot Sauce and once again I've forgotten to bring a bottle from the giant Tabasco sauce rack that Ragin RR sent me. I really need to get my head out of my ass one of these days. Then i need to get organiz-ized!
For some reason I didn't have high expectations for these, but they are really good! The chicken is juicy and the sauce is really tasty with just a little heat kicking in after you take a bite.
After I happily devoured the wings, Kevin showed up with this week's pizza pie.
Here's a birds-eye-view of the pie, properly sauced and peppered up.
I've placed two slices on a plate to begin the all-important cooling process, which is a safety procedure so I don't burn the roof of my mouth with molten-hot cheese and it's also an excuse to drink another beer.
After a proper cooling process time, I take a bite and this is really good pizza and it has a unique flavor for this area. The cheese is really creamy and the crust is thin, but the back of the slice is a little thicker which makes for a nice texture. I ordered it with extra cheese, onions and Italian beef. I've never seen Italian beef offered as a topping and it really adds a nice flavor to the pizza.
There's a bar back here that used to be part of The Pizza inn, but now it's a separate entity that you're supposed to enter by leaving and going to the side of the building. However, they gave me permission to go back down the hallway and enter the bar like in the old days, which was very nice of them!
After a nice conversation with Casey, I turned around and saw Carrie, who we met on the last night of the PIzza inn. It was great to see her and it's cool that she's still working here. Below is a picture of her and Chris Herold and some of their friends and co-workers from that night just about a year ago.
There's Carrie on the left and Chris Herold in the middle holding a picture from the restaurant. Hard to believe a year has gone by since I snapped this photo. As I always say, "fun flies when you're having time."
I finally made it back to the bar where Jamie, the pretty bartender on duty serves up a bottle of dessert for the day. This bar is not part of Aurelio's and they've turned it into a cool, little stand alone bar. I'll be doing a full post from here soon, stay tuned for that!
Okay, it's a day later and a dollar shorter and time for this week's cold pizza challenge! As you can see, I've yet to crack open a bottle of the Baba six pack I got at Unclaimed Freight Store. I need to dive into that this week.
It's delicious! Thanks to everyone at Aurelio's for the friendly hospitality and tasty pizza and wings! We'll see you all tomorrow!
Three Chef Boyardees—A unique tasting and hearty pizza awaits you at Aurelio’s Pizza.
3821 N. Sterling Avenue
Related Posts: YOP @ The Pour House, No Wake Zone, Farmington Pizza Company/Acme Saloon, Tobin’s Pizza, Joe’s Sports Grille, Broken Tree, Hoops Pub & Pizza, Oliver's Pizza & Pub North, Rizzi’s on State, Bacci Pizza, Veterans Pub and Pizza, Larry’s Driftwood Pizza, Norwood Pub ‘N’ Grub, Barrister’s Pizza and Pub, Mickie’s Pizzeria, Double A’s, Lucca Grill, Avanti’s, Leonardo’s, Lou’s La Grotto, Knuckles Pizza, Davis Bros. Pizza, Kenny’s Westside Pub, Dave’s Pizza, Peoria Pizza Works, Sugar and Agatucci’s.
Bonus Pizza Art by Jaws the Cabbie!
Jaws the Cabbie misread the title and thought I was going to get more of a pizza pie like this piece of pizza art he sent in. Ha! Good one, Jaws, thanks!