Four months ago, lawyer and now-restaurant-owner Brian McManus Jr. opened Remember Charlotte's, an all-American pizza place in Barrington with a sweet back story. While McManus Jr. was growing up, his favorite pizza place in Barrington was called Charlotte's Pizza. He and his family went every week, and the restaurant quickly became a staple of his childhood. Remember Charlotte's is his love letter to that restaurant, with nostalgic throwbacks to '70s and '80s pop culture.
The menu focuses on pizza with a selection of sandwiches, wraps and salads. There's a full bar, myriad craft sodas, and a dessert menu selection of shakes, floats, ice cream and a banana split.
Remember Charlotte's Pizza205 Park Ave., Barrington, (847) 382-3900, remembercharlottespizza.com/
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
Inside, the décor is decidedly retro, with old movie posters and historic accents filling a modern loft-style setting. And parents, definitely bring your kids. Remember Charlotte's is one of the most kid-friendly adult restaurants I've seen. There's a whole section in the back with a video game console and tables and chairs just for the kids to hang out. Children were running all over the restaurant and having a fabulous time, and the servers seemed to do double-duty as fun baby sitters and skilled waitstaff. Those who would prefer a quiet night out, this might not be the best place. But for anyone looking to keep both themselves and their kids entertained for an entire meal, you've found it.
We started our meal with the fried artichokes and fried pickles. The pickles seemed to be in something like a beer batter and served with ranch. They had a nice crunch, and the pickles themselves were relatively mild, so we didn't get that super-concentrated tang warm pickles sometimes have. The fried artichokes were just the hearts, covered in a tempura-style batter and served with a combo lemon and mayo dip. We adored the dip; it complemented the flavor of the artichoke hearts perfectly -- and everything else in our meal, since we refused to give it up when our waitress took the empty plate away.
For our entrees, we ordered a pizza with goat cheese, mushrooms and onions and the turkey asiago sandwich on sourdough with fries. Definitely get the pizza. My pizza was delicious. The crust is designed to be super thin (like the original Charlotte's Pizza), and while it could have been cooked a bit longer for a better crisp, it had a nice cornmeal crunch on the bottom. I got a lot of ingredients in every bite, and the goat cheese seemed really fresh. The sauce, too, was robust and flavorful. The 12-inch was big enough for me to take home most of it, and the leftovers were just as good cold as they were hot.
The sandwich, on the other hand, was a disappointment. The ingredients individually were good -- hearty carved turkey, a nice soft sourdough -- but altogether, it was lacking any punch that would have elevated it to more than just a relatively bland sandwich. The fries were also not that great; they seemed to be undercooked fries from a freezer bag. My advice is to focus on the pizza.
The two main issues with Remember Charlotte's are the prices and parts of the service. A continuing complaint from customers in online reviews centers around wine prices. At $16 a glass, it's a bit too expensive. The hot tea as well; I was charged the price of an entire box of tea for one tea bag. The specialty pizzas also are more than $20 each for 14 inches. Overall, a meal for just my husband and me was more than $50. The owners would be wise to rethink how expensive some of the menu items are and adjust accordingly. As far as the service, our waitress was wonderful. She was completely on top of everything and very nice. But we did encounter someone who claimed to be the owner (who we later discovered was not) who was rude to us.
The bottom line: There are a few kinks in prices and service, and some issues with the sandwiches. But, the pizza is delicious and something I would eat again.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.