Talking a Lot About Borelli’s, Lincoln Square’s New Pizza Shop

With a great family business comes great family stories.

Photo: Courtesy of Mark Borelli
 

One hand on the pizza peel, the other on the camera: Borelli says his pie “comes out the way it comes out.”

Mark Borelli is a talker. Over the course of a, shall we say, discursive conversation nominally about his new restaurant, Borelli’s (2124 W. Lawrence Ave., 773-275-1700), we covered a lot of topics. Here are a few snippets, along with how they eventually led back to Borelli’s:

Borelli: I grew up in central Illinois—Monticello. My mother’s father, family name McCartney, was a farmer about seven miles away. She was a raised farm-girl Methodist. Country Methodist. She met my father, a Chicago Roman Italian Catholic. He was in ROTC, stationed in Italy for three years. My grandmother on my mother’s side never accepted the mixed marriage.

Notice “Italy” and “Italian.” Borelli’s serves pizza. Borelli uses his family recipe for dough the same way he made it 40 years ago as a kid.

Borelli: I grew up working on my grandfather’s farm in the summer. Baled hay, sheared sheep, shucked corn. You name it, I did it.

Borelli also owns the Farmer’s Garden Market two blocks west. He’ll grow tomatoes, arugula, basil, and thyme, among other seasonal items, in the garden. What he doesn’t sell retail, he’ll use in the restaurant.

Borelli: I have three children, and my wife teaches music. We’ve built the music school [upstairs from the restaurant] from scratch. It started out of our house with four [students], seven or eight years ago. She is a classically trained pianist. She grew up Baptist in Salt Lake City amongst the Mormons. The boys could not invite her to the dances because she was not Mormon.

Because it’s a family-run business and the family has many other irons in the fire, the restaurant is open only for lunch Wednesday through Friday and for dinner Thursday and Friday. Weekends are available for special events.

Borelli: It’s a thin crispy crust. Hand-crafted pizza. It comes out the way it comes out. Hand-pressed, rolled, sauced. In the oven for three minutes, then add whatever toppings and the cheese. Then it goes in for the second bake. Sausage, green pepper, and onion go in first round because they take longer to cook. It goes back in for 15 more minutes at 375°. It’s cooked until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned.

That kind of speaks for itself.

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