Pal Joey’s

440 East Roosevelt Rd., West Chicago IL 60185

This place has been here my whole life, which is coming up on 40 years!  It’s not in the original spot it was when it started but it’s been around forever.  That’s got to mean the pizza is good, right?  And although it’s older than I am, I can still only recall less than a handful of times that I’ve been here.  It’s been almost a decade since the last visit, so I thought it might be a good time to re-visit.

I’ve learned that there are three locations; the original in West Chicago, one in Batavia, and one attached to the Wheaton Bowl in Wheaton.  I chose to go to the original West Chicago one.  The current location of the West Chicago restaurant is on the end of a strip mall.  I think I saw a dental office and athletic training place in the same strip mall.  I went there on a Monday night around 6:30.  There weren’t many cars in the lot or patrons in the building.

You first walk into a foyer.  To the left is a door to some seating, looks like it may be for banquets or parties.  To the right is the host stand.  I was greeted by the man there and told him I was waiting for a friend and would do that in their bar.  Behind him to the right was what looked like the main dining room.  It was fairly sizable with a wall halfway across that didn’t extend the length of the room.  More seating was on the other side.

To the left of the host stand was the bar area.  There were maybe 10 stools at the bar and half a dozen or so high-top tables surrounding it.  Before I even sat down, two of the women behind the bar asked if I was there for a pick-up order; I filled them in on my dining plans.  One of the women left, the other got me a beer.  The bar has eight draft lines and two TVs.

Finally my friend showed up and we decided to remain at the bar.  We looked over menus but were definitely getting pizza.  The menu had a very nice looking selection, heavy on the Italian food.  Surprisingly the pizza section of the menu was small.  There weren’t any specialty pizzas listed.  It just stated in large print: Pan Pizza – Our Specialty.  In small font under that said thin crust and super thin crust were also available.  Four pizza sizes and list of toppings and costs followed.

We settled on a large 14-inch pan pizza, it was there specialty after all, topped with pepperoni and sausage.  It took about 20 minutes to get it.  When it came out it looked so good.

Pan pizza is their specialty
Our bartender served us each our first slice.  There was so much melty cheese hanging off the piece, she did the patented pizza server move where they stretch it out really long then cut the cheese off using the spatula and plate edge.  I’ve only ever seen that move done at a pizza place.


I think I’ve mentioned before that pan style is probably my favorite.  I was going to enjoy this, I could just tell.  I started eating with a knife and fork and as I got closer to the edge I just picked it up and ate it with my hands.

Let’s mention the cheese again.  There was plenty of it and it was nice and gooey.  The toppings were tasty, both were flavorful, and fairly evenly and abundantly spread across the pizza.  The pepperoni was a little greasy.  In fact, add that to the grease from the cheese and the pizza had a little sheen to it.  It was a noticeable amount of grease but not disgustingly so.  The sauce was good, more of a sweet sauce.  It was flavorful though.  The crust is what makes the pan pizza though.  It was about an inch and a half thick and provided a nice initial crunch because of the oiled pan followed by a satisfying chew.

Cross section.  You can see the crunch and the chew.
Two big guys each had two pieces and we were done.  OK, I went back for one more, but we were filled up for sure.  The bartender boxed the rest up for me which I’m going to enjoy immensely.  I’m going to definitely reheat this in the oven to make sure it gets the best leftover treatment.

Just a couple extra notes.  I made a trip to the bathroom while I was there; it was clean but definitely had seen better days.  The sink was cracked, old soap dispensers broken, and you could see patch marks on the wall.  There is a separate carryout area that is also accessible from a door on the backside of the building.  When I was leaving it looked like there might be a drive-up window to pick up your food but I’m not positive it was operational.  I was also happy with the price as well.  I got a large two-topping pizza with two cokes for $25.08.  I will definitely be back here.


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