First bites: AJ Barile’s Chicago Pizza

After hearing the news that AJ Barile’s Chicago Pizza took first place in the western U.S (and fifth in the world!) at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas earlier this year, I’d been wanting to try them

This past Friday, I finally got a chance to do so.

Was it the best pizza I’ve ever had?

Um…not quite. But it was very good.

Let’s get this out of the way: When you think of Chicago pizza, you think of thick crust, deep dish pies, right? AJ Barile’s has thin crust.

But, oh, what a crust!

My partner and I ordered a large Mona Lisa pie, which is topped with tomatoes, fresh garlic and meatballs. It’s also the one which won them the award at this year’s Pizza Expo.

The toppings were great, but the best part was the crust, which is liberally sprinkled with herbs — both top and bottom. Yum!

This gave the pizza a unique edge.

The large pie was indeed large (16″). We ended up taking nearly half of it home.

AJ Barile’s also serves a “stuffed” pizza, which is basically a pizza with a second crust grafted on top. That’ll probably be my pick for my next visit.

They also sell lasagna, spaghetti, various sandwiches and specialize in Chicago hot dogs and sausages.

They have a small salad bar, which looked inviting.

I would definitely recommend AJ Barile’s for those looking for a unique pizza experience. The pizza is one of the best I’ve had and the staff goes out of their way to be helpful.

For another take, The Sun/Daily Bulletin food critic Allan Borgen (who happened to be a judge at this year’s International Pizza Expo) visited AJ Barile’s a while back. You can read his review here.

AJ Barile’s Chicago Pizza is at 32693 Yucaipa Blvd., Yucaipa.