Tavern-style sausage pizza at Villa Nova Stickney

I didn’t have a lot of expectations for — or insights into — Villa Nova Pizza Stickney before this visit. I hadn’t done a ton of research and just trusted that my “pizza fixers,” Brian Erst and Subbu Arumugam, had picked a great spot to visit after our stop at Kim’s Uncle Pizza.

They did not let me down. “They” being Brian & Subbu — and, I guess, Villa Nova too.

Brian and Subbu were known quantities among the longtime co-managers on duty, Victor Escamilla and Lisa Hodges — which greased the way for me to pester them and shoot the pizzamaking process there. I watched and videoed them making a handful of pizzas before they got to ours — Villa Nova’s signature sausage pizza.

Villa Nova Pizza makes a tavern-style pizza — a thin and crisp pizza that’s heartily topped and then cut into a grid pattern known in Chicagoland as “tavern cut” or “party cut.”

A pizza sliced into a grid pattern, with sausage on top.
A tavern-style sausage pizza from Villa Nova Stickney.

On a Villa Nova sausage pie, each one of those cuts has at least one nearly golf-ball size piece of sausage on it — a garlicky, fennel-flecked sausage that’s just fantastic. As Victor says, quoting customers, “That sausage is on point.”

Unlike Kim’s Uncle, the new-school operation in an old-school setting who are running with the “cured crust” method, Villa Nova does a “straight bake.” That is to say it’s stretched, sauced, topped, cheesed, and then launched into the oven with no subsequent treatment of the dough.

The crust here was a tad thicker than the preceding cured crust pizzas I’d eaten, but it was remarkably light and airy. It had a fine-to-medium crumb to it, with lots of tiny bubbles trapping air and leading to a crisp and almost Ritz cracker–like texture. (And I mean that in a complimentary way.) Unlike the cured-crust pizzas I’d tried so far, which tended to be more crunchy and fairly uniform in their texture, Villa Nova’s crust had some variations throughout the bite and across the span of the pie.

Villa Nova offers takeout and delivery only. The little tavern/seating area next door that used to belong to them has since been taken over by sandwich shop (the Corned Beef Factory), which was under construction when we visited for this video in May 2023. Subbu, Brian, and I ate our sausage pizza in the takeout area, perched on the little tile ledge there, and chatted with Victor and Lisa. I’m guessing they normally wouldn’t allow this impromptu seating arrangement, but, as I said, Subbu and Brian have an in there from their numerous South Side pizza crawls, and so we got to hang out for an hour or so, chat, and shoot this video. Hope you like it!

Until next time, hasta la pizza.

Villa Nova Stickney: 6821 W Pershing Rd, Stickney, IL 60402; 708-788-2944

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