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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Traverso's [Meeting #80]

Traverso's [GoogleMaps]
15601 S Harlem Ave
Orland Park, IL 60660

CPC invaded Traverso's on 5/13/09.

Review submitted by Jen

The Traverso brothers, John and George, have been Chicago suburb restaurant owners since 1962 when they purchased a tavern in Roseland. Within the next few years they opened two pizza restaurants in Mount Greenwood, the second in response to overwhelming demand for their pizza. With the opening of the restaurants, they also employed their mother, Mama T, a veteran to the food industry and holder of Traverso's “famous homemade recipes” from Italy (where she grew up). AND, only a few years after that, they opened their first Travero's in Orland park, eventually closing the Mount Greenwood restaurants in order to focus their attention on it. It seems to have paid off. They had to expand it to meet demand and in 1993 George's sons Mike and Paul carried on the family tradition and opened a location in Naperville.

We had a small group, so ordered only 2 of the pizzas, both large and thin crust. It was plenty for four people and leftovers. We ordered:

  • Bacon and Mushroom
  • Sausage, Onion and Green Pepper
There was an option for double crust, but since it appeared to be an afterthought -- (it was itemized along with the extra cheese charge) -- we opted to just do both as single, thin crusts. Both pizzas came out about 20 minutes after ordering, piping (mouth singeing) hot -- but a good temperature after a few minutes. Overall, I think the pizzas went over really well. The first thing we all noticed was the crust, which was very thin, but held up well under the toppings. The sauce was thick and plentiful, and tasted heavily of oregano and thyme. The sausage was made at the restaurant, with good quality meat; it had a great texture and none of the chewy weirdness you sometimes encounter with lower grades. The cheese was standard, and a few of us thought that it might have been the source of saltiness in the slices, (although I think it was mostly the bacon that was responsible for that). The toppings were in good proportions; almost every bite had all ingredients and the right amount of cheese.

One thing that should be mentioned is that we went on a Wednesday night, which has karaoke starting at 8pm. This has to be the best karaoke night I've ever been to -- all of the performers were obviously regulars, (we were told that they would show up even during a tornado watch, and it turns out that there was one that night), and they sang wonderfully. They were an older crowd and sang mostly standards while some couples danced and others mingled at the bar. Also of note, the service was impeccable, truly outstanding.

As a group, we seemed to have similar opinions about the pizza. We liked the crispiness of the thin crust and the quality of the meat but thought that the cheese and mushrooms were mediocre and would have liked the pizza to be less salty.

Overall, I think Traverso's is a gem in the southwest suburbs, and it is certainly worth going to for the pizza, (and the overall experience), if you are in the area and have a car.

Chicago Pizza Club gives Traverso's a 6.2

Traverso's Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. The ambiance rocked! I mean this place was decored in the 1960's and never looked back! Everyone was super friendly and the karaoke really was a sight to see. Most of these people could have been on the senior edition of American Idol.

    The pizza. I sat back as a first time attendee and let the others order. As a non-sausage lover, I REALLY liked this sausage. It had a breakfast sausage taste that was pretty mellow and allowed the green peppers and onion to shine. I do believe the bacon made that other pizza salty, but I also think it was the sauce which seemed to be heavier on the bacon pizza.

    The sauce: Wasn't a huge fan, but it didn't stop me from eating 10 slices. It was more tangy than I prefer.

    The crust: It was really good when it first came out but after 10 minutes it started to soften a bit, which is probably why they serve the pizza on racks.

    The cheese: Eh. After all the other ingredients which seemed to be of a higher quality, was disappointed in this low grade mozzarella.

    Overall: Would have again, and definitely go for karaoke!

  2. This review comes with a caveat: I think that if we had ordered a specific topping set this pizza would have scored above an 8. However, we did not order that specific set and the score suffers.

    So, as Jen points out, this place is like the world's classiest dive bar, except it's not a dive bar at all. It is partitioned into two areas - dining and bar. We chose bar, which still has many tables and booths and dim lighting along with very friendly customers and staff. The ambiance score here is the tops and medals should be given all around for the nice and attentive, but never intrusive, service. It is the paradigm of Midwestern hospitality. Without the racism and cross burning and stuff.

    Ok, so onto the pizza. I think going with the classic thin was a wise choice. They didn't seem to be pushing the double crust and in these tavern styles of pizza the crust is best when it is thin. One the pie with two toppings, it held up well and had a great crispness. On the pie with three toppings (2 of which had high water content) it did mush up on inner pieces. The initial flavor I got when biting into this pizza was saltiness - in a good way. As the meal progressed and I went through my beverage and my water glass, the persistent saltiness became a bit of a negative. I think it came from the cheese, but it was hard to tell even after dissecting my pizza. The sauce was tart with oregano and thyme shining through and it was more of a paste than a true sauce. I think it went well with the salty profile of the overall pizza. The meats we ordered were salty, true, but they were very good. The bacon, in retrospect, was a mistake when paired with mushrooms. This because the mushrooms were canned and contributed a lot of salt to the pizza. In a positive light, the bacon was in thick pieces and well cooked and the sausage was homemade with strong garlic flavor. It was generously spread throughout the pie. The cheese was nondescript part skim mozzarella and I think was the source of the saltiness. I am not sure why this cheese would be so salty, so it is certainly possible it came just from the meats. I did try every component separately though and felt the cheese was the culprit, although it could have absorbed some of the fat and salt from the meats during their cook.

    As the caveat mentions, I think the ideal topping here would be a one or two veggie pie. That way the salt helps perk up the vegetables and keeping the ingredients to one or two keeps the crust crisp. If I am ever out in this part again, I will stop by and make get a cheese pizza with garlic. Or I may tempt the fates and just get a plain old pepperoni and hope the saltiness of tonight was a fluke. My score for Traverso's is a 6.0, which is slightly disappointing to me because I feel that with a few minor changes this could be much, much better pizza.

    A few questions remain:

    1. Were all the males here gifted with silky smooth karaoke voices or did the microphone do this?

    2. Why don't more places have glowing green ice cubes in their mixed drinks?

    3. Will our waitress find true love with the nephew of the professional athlete she is dating?

  3. Traverso's on a Wednesday night is a must when you feel like going for a drive outside the city. The entertainment is top-notch, service is personal and attentive, and pizza is adequate.

    The crust is incredibly thin and very crunchy without much (if any) chew. It had a bit of flour dusted on it and didn't get soggy at all. As far as the toppings go, I enjoyed the sausage and bacon the most. Chewy meat makes me cringe and there wasn't any cringing here! I didn't find the vegetables to be that flavorful. The mushrooms were canned. The cheese was the overpowering flavor and I found myself fighting with it in a game of tug of war. Tomato sauce was sparse with the exception of the slices on the perimeter that weren't covered in cheese. This is where I could taste and see the presence of oregano. As far as the overall saltiness of both pizzas, I blame the cheese. I wouldn't write this pizza off but I also won't call it exceptional. However, the restaurant as a whole is a winner.

    Btw, the pizza is served hot, so take a minute or two before diving in. The roof of my mouth is still recovering.

    Traverso's gets a 6.

  4. Addendum:

    When I reheated a few slices at home, it was clear that the bacon was the salt culprit. They generously put a ton of bacon on there, but maybe they should ease off it a little.

  5. I thought the pizza here was definitely worth getting again, and the place itself makes it worth the drive. I especially liked how the crust was very thin but held up under the ingredients. Unlike El Presidente, I liked the amount of bacon used. I didn't care much for the mushrooms though. I also appreciated the way the sauce was distributed. It's possible that the integrity of the crust would have suffered had it been saucier under the toppings.

    If the rating was based on ambiance and service it might be close to a 10 for me. I'm already making plans to go again and look forward to trying more menu items. The pizza itself gets a 6.5.

  6. Traverso's is the best pizza EVER!!!! Travel the world and anytime I am in Chicago, this is a must visit... EVERYTIME