Pizza and kids go together like Dora and exploration. How much more would your kids enjoy their pie if they got to put it together themselves? (The answer: a whole lot more!) Let your little ones have a hand in their dinner by decorating their own pizza. You can do it at the following laidback restaurants that think it’s a-okay for kids to play with their food.
Pasta, pizza, and friendly frivolity are what this downtown hangout is all about. Crisp, brick-oven pies are some of its most popular items, and kids can design and craft their own from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Sundays — for free. Any interested young chefs are escorted with their parents to the pizza table in the rear of the restaurant. The dough is already rolled out, so all they need to do is decorate it with sauce and cheese, then it’s off to the oven to cook.
401 W. Superior St.
This laidback ‘za paradise is praised for its gluten-free menu and friendly staff. Every day, kids can put together their own mini pizzas. Servers bring pre-rolled dough to their seat, along with cupes of sauce, cheese and other toppings (except raw meat). Spoon on whatever you like and wait for the baking magic to happen. Ranalli’s also does kids’ pizza-making birthday parties.
1512 W. Berwyn Ave.
Moretti’s Ristorante & Pizzeria
With six locations across the Chicago area, Moretti’s specializes in homey Italian-American food, and pan and thin-crust pizzas. Kids eat free on Monday evenings, and they can make their own pizza tableside anytime they want. Servers bring the dough, kids add the sauce and cheese, and the oven does the rest.
Bartlett, Edison Park, Fox Lake, Lake in the Hills, Mount Prospect, Schaumburg
Bivona Ristorante Pizzeria
Family comes first at this cozy Lincoln Park haven for stone-baked pizzas, fresh pasta and saucy Italian cuisine. Owner Mark Delia uses old-world family recipes (his grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Sicily in 1908) and makes kids feel welcome. That’s especially true on Sundays when, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., kids eat free and can design their own pizzas.
2506 N. Clybourn Ave.
At fast-casual pizza-pasta spot Vapiano, you approach the counter, place your order and watch cooks prepare your meal in minutes. Kids are welcome to get more hands-on. If you call in advance, they can design their own pizza pies. The dough is pre-stretched and pre-sauced. But the world is their oyster when it comes to sprinkling on toppings, from cheeses and meats to herbs, mushrooms and vegetables. Bonus: free gummy bears by the cash register.
2577 N. Clark St.
The first Chicago outpost of national customizable pizza chain has landed in Lakeview, with many more on the way. This fast-casual spot has an assembly line format, meaning customers meander down the line designing their own pizzas by selecting whatever sauces, cheeses and toppings they want. Options are pretty boundless, so have fun picking and choosing whatever you want, from crumbled meatballs to Parmesan to pineapple to BBQ drizzle. Once put together, the pizzas are whisked into the wood-fired oven to cook. Blaze also has housemade s’mores, which they warm in the pizza oven.
953 W. Belmont Ave.
Have you ever made your own pizza? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Matt Kirouac