Hours: Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Price range: Pizzas $3.35 to $9.95 depending upon size and topping. Subs and sandwiches $2.40 to $3.Italian dinners $4.25 to $4.95.
Atmosphere: Comfortable, friendly with 1920s era decor.
Reservations: Taken only on weekday nights.
Credit Cards: American Express, Diners Club, Visa, Master Charge.
Special Facilities: High chairs and booster chairs available. Although there are no special facilities for the handicapped, the management help patrons in wheelchairs. Some child-size portions.
In the world of pizza lovers there are two camps -- those who prefer pizza with a thin, cripsy crust and thos who favor a thick deep-dish crust. Armand's Chicago Pizzeria specializes in the latter variety, but if you prefer a thin crust, don't let that keep you from Armand's. There are other choices on the menu.
When we arrived at Armand's on a weekday evening we waited only long enough for several small tables to be put together to make one large enough for our party of seven. This is not always the case. On weekends the restaurant is almost always filled.
We were seated in a large room; tables were spaced far enough apart to allow diners some privacy. The decor is of the 1920s with art deco style paintings on the walls. A cocktail bar stretches the length of the room and a small stage is in one corner. The stage is used for bluegrass, country and rock music groups who entertain after 9 p.m. During the entertainment, parties with children are seated in one of the two other dining rooms.
The menu is decorated with the same '20s era art work and features Armand's deep-dish pizza. There are three sizes of pizza available: nine-inch, 12-inch and 14-inch.
We could not decide between the Italian sausage and the veggy -- a vegetarian special made with muchrooms, green peppers and onions -- so we combined the two. The price was for the more expensive pizza, $9.25 for the 14-inch Italian sausage.
The menu cautions that the pizza takes 20 to 25 minutes to prepare but it is well worth the wait. Even those avowed fans of thin crust pizza who were at our table were tempted to try Armand's specialty and they were not disappointed.
Our pizza was at least two inches deep and required a knife and fork to eat.The dough, we were told, is made at Armand's and is a wonderful blend of crunch outside crust and soft inside core. Although the menu promises three different kinds of cheese on the pizza, we could only identify mozzarella, but it was sufficient.
Armand's menu features four Italian dinners: spaghetti, $4.25 and lasagna, manicotti and stuffed shells, all at $4.95. These dinners include salad bar. A side order or child's portion of all dinners, except lasanga, is available at roughly half the price, but it does not include salad bar.
We tried the lasagna, manicotti, and stuffed shells. The same rich tomato sauce, containing ground meat and Italian sausage, is used for each. Large amounts of ricotta and parmesan cheese were in each dish, but there was a scarcity of mozzarella cheese.
The salad bar resembled too many other salad bars in existence today. The iceberg lettuce was crisp but the other fresh vegetables available -- cherry tomatoes, onion slices and sliced mushrooms -- all looked tired and wilted. There was the usual bean salad, beets and cottage cheese as well as commercially prepared potato and macaroni salads and cole slaw. Parmesan cheese, bacon bits, chow mein noodles and croutons were also available.
In a restaurant that serves such a large number of dishes high in carbohydrates it would have been a relief to find some vegetable "crunchies" such as carrot or celery sticks, green pepper rings or cucumber slices. The salad bar can be ordered separately at $2.50 per person.
We also sampled some of the subs and sandwiches on the menu. The Philadelphia cheese steak sub, $2.75, was large, filled with sandwich steak, mozzarella cheese, grilled onions, lettuce and tomatoes. Our two youngest diners wisely agreed to share it. We were told that the sub rolls come from a bakery only partially baked so that Armand's can put on the finishing touches. This results in a crispy crust and soft inside.
Our waitress was pleasant and helpfu throughout the meal. At her suggestion we ordered a pitcher of soft drinks at $2.50 rather than ordering the drinks individually. In this way we had the equivalent of seven glasses of soft drink for the same price we would have paid for five ordered separately.
We all had eaten so much that we opted for just a bite of dessert. We ordered a slice of amaretto cheesecake which had a rich almond flavor and was quite light in texture. The chocolate cheesecake was smooth and creamy but lacked a rich chocolate flavor. All cheesecake on the menu -- plain, amaretto and chocolate -- is $1.25 per slice and ice cream is 75 cents.
Our bill for seven people came to $40.59, not including tip, but we ended up carrying home at least half of our pizza. We also left with a few new converts to the joys of deep-dish pizza.