Celebrating 60 Years, Armand's Pizzeria Brings History and Signature Pizza to Yorktown Center

 
Claire Vartabedian
Posted9/29/2014 5:08 PM
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As it nears it's 60th Anniversary, Armand's Pizzeria, offering legendary, award-winning thin crust pizza, will be opening Armand's Victory Tap, a full service restaurant/bar in Yorktown located at 346 Yorktown Center (corner of Butterfield and Highland in Lombard) on Thanksgiving Day. In a city of deep-dish and pan pizza, Armand's Victory Tap will be dishing up its original, square-cut, thin crust pie.

Armand's Pizza first opened in 1956 when two childhood friends Michael Caringella and Armand Christopher purchased a tavern on Grand Avenue in the western suburb of Elmwood Park. A coin was flipped, and whoever was lucky enough to win the toss would decide the name for the space. Ironically, Mike won and chose the name "Armand's" - mainly so people would bother his partner with complaints and not him. And thus, "Armand's Victory Tap" was born, and later simply, "Armand's."

During this time, the suburban post war boom was in full affect, and the Armand's Elmwood Park tavern offered Chicagoans a sense of comfort and home. Armand's first opened with a 16 stool bar and six booths, and over the years, it quickly grew to accommodate over 300 customers with party rooms, a full bar and entrance area as well as a separate room for pick-ups. The delivery business grew to the point where 40 delivery drivers were needed on weekends, and during 55 years of business, it is estimated that over 3,000 drivers worked for Armand's!

Now to the pizza. Known for its thin, corn meal dusted pizza, Armand's sold thousands of their signature pies as well as other popular items - including their famous stuffed artichoke, baked clams and antipasto salad - over the span of 60 years. Armand's used one of the largest revolving ovens available and even that was not enough for all the pizza orders that came through daily. A second oven was purchased, and only at Armand's could you see two 11" by 10" deep ovens next to each other that would pump out almost 1,000 pizzas on a Friday night alone.

Armand's became THE destination for old time residents and baby boomers flocking to the western suburbs. It was common place to see Frank Sinatra or Tommy Lasorda eating dinner with Ron Santo or some other local celebrity. Armand's became the gold standard for pizza and Italian food in the western suburbs, and it all came down to the people behind the scenes specifically Mike's mom Grandma Caringella, who ruled the kitchen.

Armand left the business in the late 60's and Mike continued to grow the business over the years, bringing his roots from Taylor Street, where his father owned a butcher shop and taught Mike the family recipes for homemade Italian sausage, Italian beef and other items. Mike left the business in the late 90's, and the restaurant was given to his children Gil, Angela and Michael Jr., who later expanded Armand's to locations in Elmhurst and Arlington Heights. The third generation - Angela's son Mark and Michael's son Michael - are both active in the new stores and make sure the product still lives up to Grandma's recipes. More recently, eight fast service locations have opened up throughout the Chicagoloand area.

Now 60 years and 10 locations later, Armand's is adding a third full service location which will pay homage to its original name, "Armand's Victory Tap." A throwback to simpler times, Armand's Victory Tap, with its full bar and small intimate dining room, will be a celebration of its original 1956 Chicago tavern offering its famous thin crust pizza in the same setting as years passed. "Our goal is to create an experience that is built around eating Chicago's best thin crust pizza. The beer, The wine and The small plates are made for sharing, but at the center of the table will be the focus: The pizza," explains Managing Partners Anthony Gambino and Mark Cecola.

The format of the restaurant will be small plates, but there will still be traditional items on the menu such as popular pastas, the stuffed artichoke and baked clams. The Armand's mission is to continue the family tradition and recipes so that children and grandchildren of Armand's original customers can enjoy the food their parents and grandparents remembered 60 years ago.

Armand's is also in lease negotiations in Austin, Texas for it's second Armand's Victory tap!

For more information about Armand's, please visit armandspizzeria.com. For media inquiries, please contact Claire at 773-662-0454 or mcvartabedian@gmail.com.