The name of the latest entrant to the local pizza scene will likely ring a bell for snowbirds and those with East Coast ties: “Our whole strategy has been to go to areas where Chicagoans go,” says Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza founder Anthony Bruno, who plans to open his first Midwestern locations in Orland Park (14205 S. La Grange Rd.) and Lombard (757 E. Butterfield Rd.) this summer.
For the uninitiated, Anthony’s cooks up thin-crust pies, along with everything else on the menu (save for salad), in coal-fired ovens. The chicken wings and sliced eggplant Marino (named for partner/football legend Dan Marino) are popular, but pizza is clearly the main attraction.
Bruno relocated to South Florida from his native Long Island 36 years ago. His first restaurant venture was an Italian joint in Fort Lauderdale—that did not serve pizza. In 2002, Anthony’s Coal Fired was born, perhaps out of necessity: “I had actually stopped eating pizza because it just wasn’t good down here [in Fort Lauderdale]. I had to take a shot,” he recalls.
His crust pays homage to the New York pies of his youth, taking on a smoky flavor from the coal, and a texture he labels “crispier and a little more dense than Neapolitan.” The menu offers 10 specialty pies, and Bruno points to the meatball- and ricotta-topped and roasted cauliflower varieties as fan favorites.
Anthony’s now has 61 locations, canvassing Florida and dotting the Northeastern states. “A lot of [Chicago-area] people know us already,” Bruno says. If they don’t, they soon will: Assuming all goes well in the ’burbs, Bruno aims to add up to 20 locations in the Chicago market.