In 1960 the Bambini family emigrated from Sicily to the United States and brought an arsenal of well-loved recipes with them. In 1963 the family opened their first restaurant and relied on “quality and service” to nurture a loyal customer base. Though ownership of the pizza and pasta focused eatery has changed hands several times over the years, the same collection of century old recipes remains at the heart of the Elmwood Park business. Today, The Original Old World Pizza, 7230 W. North Ave., thrives thanks to generational affinity for their traditional pies and consistent flavor.
Current manager, Nick Tharani and his staff have dedicated themselves to keeping this Elmwood Park pizza tradition alive. Tharani has been part of that legacy for three years, but pizza cook, Amadeo Montalvo, has been topping, baking and sliced Old World pizzas for more than two decades. The continuity of recipes and longtime employees cultivates a base of customers who keep coming back.
“All of our sauces are made fresh in-house,” said Tharani. “A Wisconsin dairy farm custom blends our cheese.”
The manager qualifies Old World’s sauce as “not too sweet and not too tangy.” The red sauce forms the base for the five types of pizza offered at the unassuming strip mall restaurant. Traditional thin crust and indulgent deep dish are the most popular offerings, but double deck, double dough and stuffed pizzas are also on the Old World menu. The shop churns out an average of 150 pizzas every Friday night.
In fact, Tharani recollects a time when a former owner changed the custom cheese blend for a less expensive and more readily available brand. Customers were swift to notice the change and the business returned to their old ways to keep their patrons satisfied.
“Some of our customers have been coming here for more than 20 years and we know them by face and name,” said Tharani. “If we make any changes, we’ll hear from them. We have customers who come back to get a slice after 10 years and they say it tastes exactly the same.”
Old World Pizza has a small casual dining room where hungry customers can enjoy a freshly made bowl of spaghetti or piping hot pizza, but 90% of Old World’s business comes from a combination of delivery and carryout orders. Pizzas account for 80% of business at Old World Pizza, but Tharani is quick to recommend their chicken wings, house made meatballs, and fried dough, too.
An Elmwood Park mainstay, The Original Old World Pizza, is on a mission to continue serving hungry locals the pizza they have come to know and love — every slice they serve honors a near 60 year old legacy.
Despite supply chain issues and food cost increases, management has kept the prices on their weekday lunch specials the same. These “pick-up only” are available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and come with a can of soda or bottle of water.
- Two slices of thin crust pizza $6.50
- Italian beef sandwich with fries $7.50
- Meatball sandwich with fries $7.50
- 1/3-pound hamburger with fries $7.50
- Breaded Chicken Sandwich with fries $7.50
- Grilled chicken sandwich and fries $7.50
- Eggplant sandwich with fries $7.50
- Pepper and Egg Sandwich with fries $7