• #1 by Mom of 7 on 04 Mar 2006
  • This is an easy recipe and it turns out great!  My family is originally from Chicago and we are all thin crust pizza addicts. We were shocked when we moved to Virginia and found out that the pizza here is not at all what we were used to.  I did a lot of experimenting and finally came up with a very thin crust that is easy to make and a sweet sauce that tastes very much like the sauce Palermo's uses.  I cook this pizza on the cheap pizza pans from Walmart, with the holes.  They cost less than $10 and you get a large one (about 16") and a smaller (about 12") in the same package.  The work as well or maybe even better than the more expensive ones I have.  I spray the pans with non-stick spray before putting the crust on.

    Thin Pizza Crust

    Add in this order into breadmaker:

    1 cup warm water (100-110 degress)
    3 T Olive Oil
    1 tsp. sugar
    1 tsp. salt
    2 1/2 cups bread flour
    4 tsp. vital wheat gluten (optional)
    2 1/4 tsp. breadmaker yeast (or one packet regular yeast)

    Use dough setting and put finished dough ball into a glass bowl with a little olive oil, turn dough to coat with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave out on counter for 24 hours, punching down whenever you see it getting to the top of the bowl.  If you do not have 24 hours to wait, you can make use this dough right out of the breadmaker.  It is a tiny bit harder to roll out thin, but keep at it and it works just fine.  Makes enough for 2-3 medium size pizzas, depending on how thin you roll it.

    Roll out thin and cook on pizza stone or heavy pizza pan with holes.  Dock the dough before cooking (make holes in the dough with a fork if you don't have a docker) For extra crispy, pre-bake the crust at 425-450 degrees for 6-9 or more minutes, depending on how crispy you want it.  You can pre-bake the crusts and freeze them also.  You can make this without the vital wheat gluten, but it will be harder to roll out very thin.   I would not recommend using all purpose flour, it tastes fine, but is impossible to roll out thin.

    Pizza Sauce--Sweet Chicago Style

    2 large cans Contadina Crushed Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic
    1 1/2 tsp. Fresh Basil or 3/4 tsp. dried Basil
    1/2 tsp. Oregano
    1/2 tsp. pepper
    3/4 tsp. garlic powder or fresh garlic to taste (Only if you are using crushed tomatoes with no garlic already added)
    1/2 tsp. onion powder
    3/4-1 tsp. salt
    6-8T sugar
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon

    Mix and leave in fridge to flavors can "marry".  You can simmer it before putting in fridge, but it doesn't seem to make any difference, so I go for the easy way out!  Make enough sauce for at least 8 pizzas.

    For a true Palermo's style pizza, put your toppings on first and then the cheese.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes at 425-450 degrees. 

  • #2 by djryan1194 on 07 Mar 2006
  • This looks good.  I''ll give it a try.  I grew up in Chicago as well and moved to Columbus, Ohio about 8 years ago.  The pizza sucks here too.
  • #3 by lilbuddypizza on 07 Mar 2006

  • I haven't tried your sauce yet, but being the unofficial Palermo's expert, it looks decent.
    If you are going to use crushed, then this sauce should be simmered for a couple of hours to break up any remaining tomato pieces, and to better "marry" all of the ingredients.Then let it chill overnight. I would also cut down on the garlic. Anyway,I don't mean to be a purist, but I've been a customer since 1978 and have them at least once a week, so I am just thinking of the most precise recipe.
    Here's what I put in mine(I never measure, so please excuse any lack thereof):
    Tomato puree
    Dried basil
    dash of garlic
    fennel(either crushed or powdered via coffee grinder)
    onion powder
    1 green bell pepper(seeded, and whole as possible--to be removed at end of cooking)
    bit of Olive Oil
    Then simmer for a couple of hours,remembering to remove lid towards  the end to reduce the liquid to your desired thickness.

    I think that your use of cinnamon is the same reason I use fennel. There is that flavor that seems to be missing without it. I find that cinnamon, fennel, or star anise can be substituted for each other in sauces like this.(sometimes even 5-spice powder used for Chinese cooking).

    Nice to see more Palermo fans here! ;D
  • #4 by djryan1194 on 07 Mar 2006
  • By the way, how do you use a breadmaker to make this dough?  Can I use a Kitchenaide mixer with a dough hook?
  • #5 by chiguy on 07 Mar 2006
  •  Hey lilbuddy,
     I was wondering, being that you are such a good customer of Palermos has anyone there ever given you any info about the sauce?? I understood that the sauce was made at the home of the owners at one time??
     I am in agreement with you that the sauce at Palermos may be too thick for the crushed tomatoes. So much so that i would be inclined to think they may add a little tomatoe paste to it?? Whatever they do, it is one of the most unique tasting pizza sauce i have ever tasted.   Chiguy
  • #6 by lilbuddypizza on 07 Mar 2006
  • They are very secretive over there. I am sure they make the sauce there, as per the convenience.
    The two brothers, Frank and Joe Calderone ran the place for years, after their parents retired. Mama used to sit in the kitchen all the time, until she passed some 10-12 years ago. Then, a few years ago, Joe was killed in a car accident in Tinley Park. I don't know what the arrangement was before, but about a year after his death, they started fixing up the place a little. They added stuff like calzones on their menu, quarts of their meat sauce (NOT the pizza sauce, but excellent in its own right). There were rumors that they were closing down, or getting ready to sell the business. I guess so much so that they had to put ads out saying that they aren't going anywhere, but are building a new place in Orland. When they introduced the calzones, I would ask for a small cup of sauce on the side, but Frank would always be VERY reluctant, even for a price. In my mind, I am thinking that they fear someone would copy their recipe, which is unique. Truth be told, I work in the food industry and the amount of sauce that is on top of their stuffed is enough for anyone to scrape off and submit for analysis(costs $$, though). I am alittle disappointed that they would act that way to a loyal customer of almost 30 years, but--what can you do? From my experience from cooking and mostly eating, it is possible to break down the ingredients with my pallete.
    Another intriguing point in their history is the 63rd vs. 95th. Palermo's on 95th readily acknowledges that they are affiliated with 63rd Street. However, 63rd never mentions them. They are obviously the same (though not as good as 63rd), and 63rd advertises the Orland store on the menu, but not 95th. My guess is that 95th is owned by In-Laws, or maybe cousins. Maybe they had a falling out. I am not sure. I don't like to push too hard, because you never mess with the people that make your food.
    The last couple of years have not only brought improvement, but a new manager at 63rd. I believe he is a nephew, seems like a college grad. I think he is behind some menu additions, AND hour changes. Palermo's always opened at 4 and always closed on Tuesdays. Now, they open at 3PM during the week and 2 on the weekend. Last summer, they opened at noon on the weekend, so maybe they will go back. The opening at 4PM for pizza places go back to when Chicago only had 5 TV stations, and the city was dead after 9PM. People would generally eat pizza for dinner, and not at lunch or 10 at night. I am glad to see most pizza joints breaking this paradigm. There's a lot of money to be made out there.
  • #7 by chiguy on 07 Mar 2006
  •  Hi lilbuddy,
     Thanks for the scoop on Palermos, i use to live on 59th & hamlin for sometime so i have frequented Palermos many times. Some other noteable goodies in the neighborhood is Hey Buds.   Chiguy
  • #8 by jmcg on 28 Mar 2006
  • No one will ever be able to duplicate their sauce. Only 4 people know the recipe, and only they make the sauce at the 63rd St. place and the Orland Park place. However I do know that they use only puree, no paste and no crushed tomatoes. As far as the sweetness, it's anybodys guess. I knew Joe Calderone for 30 years and he was very protective
    of that recipe. Only he or Frank would make the sauce in private. I also know that the Orland Park place has altered the sauce recipe from the original. So the only place to get the original Palermo's pizza is at 63rd & Hamlin in Chicago. 95th street in Oak Lawn is pretty close but also not quite the same. I've had over 800 original Palermo's pizzas over the past 35 years, so I know a bit about the pie and its history.
    • jmcg
  • #9 by lilbuddypizza on 29 Mar 2006
  • I got the official word from Frank's sister or wife, or whoever the lead female is there----Palermo's in Orland is NOT affiliated with the 63rd Street place. They ARE building a new Palermo's at what would be around Wolf Rd. and Hwy. 6 (Lincoln Ave.).
  • #10 by blues4jesus on 26 May 2011
  • I so miss Palermo's Pizza. Even in the big city(kinda) of Rockford no pizza comes close to any Chicago style especially Palermo's. Years ago in the 80's my dad was talking with one of the cooks at the 63rd street place. He told dad the secret ingrediant was brown sugar. I did try my own hand at making some sauce and using the brown sugar definatly got it close enough to stop my craving at least for a little while. Dont know if thats still how they do it or if the guy was pulling my dads leg but it worked. :chef:
  • #11 by RoseyS on 27 Aug 2016
  • It's not cinnamon in the sauce, it's fennel and brown sugar.
  • #12 by Jeepjoe79 on 04 Oct 2017
  • I heard from two different sources that the secret ingredient is grape jelly. Also, I was at a palermos once when a patron tried to order a big side of sauce and they were told they don't do that because it has to be kept refrigerated. I actually tried adding grape jelly to my sauce last run and there was a little hint of that palermos taste but it wasn't quite right.
  • #13 by lilbuddypizza on 05 Oct 2017
  • Definitely NO grape jelly. Brown sugar sounds feasible, and fennel for sure.