Peoria Pizza Works

The Peoria Pizza Works’ name is a bit deceiving, as the restaurant has become more than just a pizza joint, boasting a menu of sandwiches and other eats. Over the years, it has evolved into a gathering place for social events—with live music on Wednesdays, Thursdays and weekends. Seeking a taste from the Windy City, we sampled the Chicago Style Stuffed Pizza. In each hearty slice, the cheese and toppings are concealed under a rich sauce and another thin layer of crust. But beware, this pizza isn’t for the faint of heart or stomach. Just one slice could almost be enough for a whole meal and a knife and fork are needed to tackle it.

Avanti's

Avanti’s Italian Ristorante owner Albert Zeller originally learned the craft of making cheese in Switzerland before coming to the United States in 1959. He eventually devoted his passion to pizza, working as manager and then finally opening his first Avanti’s, which means “forward” in Italian. With two locations in Peoria (Main and at Rockwood/Sterling), one in East Peoria and a fourth location coming to North Peoria, this area favorite is never too far away when you want great pizza. We decided to go with the Avanti’s Special—ham, pepperoni, sausage, salami, mushrooms, green peppers and onions covering their thin, crispy crust. We paired it with their famous gondolas— salami, ham, American cheese and lettuce on their famous bread—for a true Avanti’s experience.

Agatucci's

Many newcomers may not take a second glance at the unassuming tan building tucked away on University Street. But after trying out the pizza from this local love, they’ll never forget where this Peoria landmark is located, 2607 North University Street. Agatucci’s, or Aggie’s as it is commonly referred to, is in its third generation of ownership and started serving up Italian-style pizza in 1954. Agatucci’s thin crust and special sauce have had people coming back even after they moved out of the Peoria area. The most popular combination is the special, topped with green pepper, onion, sausage and mushroom. Their famous Tiger Sauce made of oil, vinegar and other secret ingredients—which adds a hint of garlic zing—will have you growling for more of their delicious pizza.

Davis Bros. Pizza

Just looking at one of Davis Bros.’ pies, can tell you that this isn’t your ordinary pizza. Their pies are truly for those who love to pile on the toppings. Ours was coated with a thick layer of crumbly sausage, topped with hefty chunks of mushroom and had just the right amount of onion. There is very little sauce and the crust is thin, but not so thin that it gets completely lost in the layers of toppings. Here’s a tip—try to save a few pieces for the next morning because this savory pizza makes a great breakfast treat. Davis Bros. Pizza opened on Glen Avenue in 2002.

Antonio's

Antonio’s is one of the new restaurants located in the historic Prairie Building downtown which also houses Liberty Pub and Bistro 320 along with available sky rooms for meetings and parties. Antonio’s gourmet brick oven pizzas caught our eye. They offer interesting taste combinations such as shrimp and goat cheese and their Cajon and Marguerita pizza. We settled on the Cajon pizza, which is topped with andouille sausage—a deliciously unique spicy meat— blackened chicken, roasted red peppers, parmesan and mozzarella. We also tried the traditional Marguerita pizza topped with tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil, named after an Italian queen who symbolized the red, white and green pizza to represent the flag of her country.

Leonardo's

Leonardo da Vinci himself couldn’t have painted a better pizza than the Leonardo da Vinci Delight. Leonardo’s Pizza is rooted on War Memorial Drive, but has branched out with another location at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie as well. One of the unique features of Leonardo’s pan pizza is that sauce is replaced with chunks of tomato, so the emphasis really is on the crust and the delectable toppings. While the delighted diner may seem overwhelmed by toppings,— sausage, pepperoni, bacon bits, Canadian bacon, ham, ground beef, mushroom, green pepper, onion, green olives and black olives—the mouth-watering flavor of each comes through in every bite. a&s