Cheap Eats. Where to eat for less than $13 an entree

The Art of Pizza (2 forks) 3033 N. Ashland Ave…

11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.-Thurs.; 11 a.m.-Midnight Fri.- Sat.

Credit cards:
Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express

Noise factor:
Conversation friendly

First impressions
It’s easy to pass up this tiny eatery tucked in a strip mall along a busy stretch of Ashland. And at first glance, it would appear to be nothing more than a takeout and delivery kind of place. But there are a few cafe-style tables and chairs plus a mountains-and-lake mural in this tidy spot, a decent enough background for a quick, inexpensive meal.

On the plate
The menu offers standards such as pizza (thin, pan and stuffed), foot-long subs, ribs and chicken (fried and barbecued), fried shrimp, pastas (ravioli to manicotti) and parmigiana-style eggplant and chicken, plus salads, appetizers (onion rings to fried calamari) and sandwiches (chicken breast, burgers and Italian sausage, etc.). All arrive in good-size portions and rank a notch or two above the average fried and sauced culinary creations found around town. The Italian-style bread used for subs, some sandwiches and to accompany dinners is the crispy-yet-soft-inside variety. The desserts? Cannoli, cheesecake and cakes.

At your service
Head to the counter, give your order, then grab a seat. The staff is helpful and on the ball — why, they even brought a wet, clean kitchen towel to our table for cleaning up our fingers after indulging in a basket of barbecue chicken wings. None of those little finger-wipe packets in sight.

Second helpings
Yummy foot-long Italian subs (also turkey, beef or American) arrived in red plastic baskets and were well-stuffed with fresh ingredients. Meaty barbecue ribs were sauced with a tasty, sweet-tangy mixture and came with hot, crisp steak fries and creamy coleslaw. A slice of pan pizza, boasting a tender-crisp crust, disappeared almost instantly. Was it the good flavor or our ravenous appetites? The cheese-packed lasagna, bathed in a rich meat sauce, is served with salad and bread. The thin-crust pizza is a fine rendition, with a decent portion of toppings and cracker-crisp crust.

Take a pass
Forget the barbecue chicken wing appetizer. These were battered and fried chicken drenched in sauce, rather than the sauced-while-cooking style we like. The salads (garden, vegetable, cheese, chef and supreme) are basic; the Italian beef, predictable. Next time we’ll try the Italian super beef (with garlic buttered bun, mozzarella cheese and pasta sauce).

Thirst quenchers
A range of soft drinks, fountain or bottled.

Inexpensive lunch and dinner specials (Tuesday, it’s an Italian meatball sandwich for $1.99 at lunch; half a fried chicken costs $4.95 at dinner). Delivery adds a $1.95 charge. And there are party-size portions of ribs, baked mostaccioli and chicken.

Price range
Appetizers, $1-$4.95; salads, $2.25-$5.25; sandwiches, $2.50-$5.50; entrees, $4.50-$12.50 (top price for 1 pound of fried shrimp a la carte); pizzas, starting at $7; desserts, $1.95; drinks, $1.50.


July 25, 2001 – As originally reported by the Chicago Tribune
Ratings key: 4 forks, don’t miss it; 3 forks, one of the best; 2 forks, very good; 1 fork, good
Reviews are based on anonymous visits by Tribune staff members. All meals are paid for by the Tribune.

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