Before I get into my review, I’d like to send a message to my friend Chandra who told me to tell her if she should try Ragazzi’s Pizza since it’s so close to her job. Yes, Chandra. Eat at Ragazzi’s. Eat there every opportunity you get, and when you go, invite me to come along.

Now on to my review. Ragazzi’s Pizza opened in June and was a dream come true for owner Jeff Daley. After working as the director of operations for Old Chicago for seventeen years, his wife grew tired of listening to him lament about how he wished he had his own pizza place. “She told me to either do it or quit talking about it,” Jeff laughs. A smart businessman (and apparently a dutiful husband), he took her advice and the rest is history.

The Ragazzi’s menu is a little daunting because there are so many items to choose from. When I asked Jeff what he would order if he were me and had just walked in for the first time and wanted to eat the best thing on the menu, he didn’t even pause. “Pizza,” he said. “I would get pizza.” I ordered pizza but glanced at the rest of the offerings: salads, calzones, sandwiches, pasta and a wide variety of desserts crafted by the in-house baker.

Did I say in-house baker? Yes, but more on that later.

I started with the bruschetta. The bread itself was amazing – just the right amount of extra virgin olive oil paired with garlic and cheese which I then topped with the accompanying chopped tomato medley. I had heard that Ragazzi’s uses only fresh produce, and when I took a bite of these tomatoes I knew the rumors were true. “You’d be surprised how many things we make from scratch,” Jeff confirmed.

When my Ragazzi Traditional pizza showed up at the table I was impressed by the presentation. The Traditional features pepperoni, Italian sausage and mushrooms. All pizzas are made with smoked provolone instead of mozzarella. The crust is thin and the sauce is thinly spread, allowing the toppings to take center stage. I am not a fan of cheap Italian sausage, and luckily this Italian sausage did not taste cheap in the least; it tasted authentic and tasty. The pepperoni was flavorful. The mushrooms were fresh and abundant. The overall taste made for an excellent pizza that I loved, my husband loved, and my kids loved.

On a side note, my husband took the leftover pizza to work for lunch the next day. When I asked him how the pizza had fared after having sat in the fridge overnight he got a wistful look on his face and said, “It was good. Really good.” He then asked when we would again be returning to Rigazzi’s.

Now back to that in-house baker. One of the things I immediately noticed when I walked into Ragazzi’s Pizza was the display of sophisticated-looking desserts. When Jeff brought over a sampling of the desserts to my table my enthusiasm was rivaled only by that of my children. First we tried the peanut butter pie, which is a fun dessert that is surprisingly light in consistency. We tried the chocolate chip sea salt cookie and the M&M chocolate chip cookie, both of which were tasty and substantial. We then moved on the cupcakes. First was the chocolate ganache, which I enjoyed immensely as a fan of dark

chocolate. Then came the chocolate caramel sea salt cupcake, which my husband declared his favorite. The last one we tried was the vanilla bean. I am such a fan of chocolate that I generally regard vanilla as the absence of flavor, but this cupcake had such a smooth, creamy taste that I had to stop and rethink my overall attitude toward vanilla.

Ragazzi’s Pizza has a casual atmosphere and a friendly staff. It’s a great place to go if you want a relatively quick meal, especially since you order at the front counter and then your food is brought out to you; this eliminates the back-and-forth of a server. This also eliminates the need to tip. Signs on the tables urge customers to not worry about cleaning up or tipping and instead to just worry about eating. As far as cost goes, I thought the meal was very reasonably priced, especially considering the high quality of the food.

I can now say without hesitation that Ragazzi’s is my favorite local pizza place. Try it for yourself and see if you agree.

Ragazzi’s Pizza is located at 5170 S. 72nd. St. in Ralston. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m Sunday. 402-502-4200 5170.

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