As someone who is used to eating West End pasta and paying cheap prices for late-night delivery pizza, I was ready to branch out and experience delicious, homemade Italian foods.
Instead of devouring another box of Pokey Stix, I decided it was time for a change. I made my way with a group of friends to Backstreets Restaurant on Main Street, ready to see whether this sit-down meal was worth the price.
The first thing I noticed when I pulled into the parking lot was the outdoor patio with tables and chairs. Although no one was sitting outside because of the winter season, I smiled at the thought of lounging outside with friends and family and enjoying the spring weather.
As I entered Backstreets, tables were filled with students and town residents. Although the inside of the restaurant looked like it had not been redecorated in decades, its wooden paneling emphasized the homey feel.
While the atmosphere was definitely welcoming, there was nobody at the hostess stand to say hello. We awkwardly stood there waiting until the female hostess made her way over and said she would seat us momentarily. She led us to a booth in the back, as she genuinely smiled.
Looking at my menu, I was surprisingly overwhelmed. I knew that my options would include all of the Italian favorites, but I never expected to be able to choose from seafood, steak, pitas and sandwiches as well.
Should I go with the chicken parmigiana sandwich, the special recipe meat lasagna or a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza?
I then made the mistake of looking at the appetizer list — “Fresh dough cut and twisted by hand. Baked to a crispy outside, brushed with butter and sprinkled with shredded Parmesan cheese.” How could I turn down those bread sticks? My mouth was already watering.
Our waiter took his time getting our drinks and taking our order. He was a nice enough guy but seemed quite busy, even though the restaurant was somewhat empty. As a student with a hectic schedule, I’m constantly trying to squeeze in a meal whenever I can. I know that going to a sit-down restaurant means you’re expected to wait, but my friends and I continued to wait for a while.
When our appetizer came about 20 minutes later, I was anxious to get my hands on a bread stick. The smell was mesmerizing. The bread was baked to perfection and melted in our mouths. My hands were covered in Parmesan cheese, but I was not complaining.
The plate was left clean with the exception of some cheese and bread crumbs. Our drinks remained empty, as we sat there looking at the plate. We all agreed the appetizer was delicious, but our mouths were dry and we needed to quench our thirst.
After waiting more than 20 minutes, we were starting to wonder where our actual meals were. My friend had to interrupt the waiter to get another round of drinks. He casually refilled our cups and told us that our meals should be coming shortly. However, shortly meant another 15 minutes.
I imagine that we looked like hyenas ready to pounce on our prey by the time our meals arrived. The aroma was once again soothing, and our cries of hunger were silenced. As our server placed the deep-dish pizza with homemade meatballs in front of us, I knew I was in for a treat.
I did not think that the warm homemade bread sticks could be topped, but this pizza was incredible. There was the perfect amount of cheese, and the meatballs reminded me of my mother’s cooking — maybe even better. The crust was rolled to the perfect thickness. They hit the Chicago-style right on the nail. As a northerner, I was extremely impressed.
This family style restaurant had officially won me over. The service was laid back, maybe a little more than I prefer, but the pizza was definitely worth the wait. A meal at Backstreets can leave one with a $15 to $20 bill, tip included.
I definitely see myself ordering this pizza again. However, I might plan on making a delivery order next time to keep my thirst quenched and to avoid paying for the below-average speed of servic