February 18, 2010


By Eric Shangraw

July 13, 2010 Updated Jul 13, 2010 at 1:30 PM CST

A Peoria restaurant hit gold when it started selling pizza in the 1950's.

Eric Shangraw is trying Agatucci's in this Week's You Gotta Eat.

Agatucci's is a part-time restaurant with generations of full-time success. They're only open 27-hours a week!

The limited time the kitchen oven is running seems to only drive demand.

Jim Agatucci's grandfather opened a grocery store here in 1926. After prohibition, he secured Peoria's 13th liquor license and turned it into a restaurant. And then in 1954, Agatucci's secured its spot in Peoria culinary history.

"World war II Veterans where bringing back that pizza from Italy and it started on the East Coats and it was moving west. We thought we'd get pizza and its been a goldmine ever since," said Jim Agatucci, the former owner who's recently retired.

"It is not a sweat-sauce at all. It is very basic tomato product with a few secret family recipes inside and it's been very popular through the years," said Danny Agatucci.

The biggest change in the last fifty years, came last month, when the latest family generation, cousin's Tony and Danny Agatucci took over, and started taking plastic for payment. Before, it was always been cash-only.

"We decided to take credit cards at the first of January and its been overwhelmingly successful. People are just elated that we are taking credit cards!" said Tony Agatucci.

We invited the retired rural food critic, Don Washburn, along for this pizza pie.

We ordered a large pizza, half sausage, the other side loaded with green pepper and mushroom.

We also had an order of fried chicken. They just use a plain batter, but its outstanding.

The thin crust pizza is impeccable. We also had salad. They leave a bottle of "Tiger Sauce" on the table to dribble on each piece of pizza. It is simply the house-Italian dressing. Apparently a former customer put it on his own pizza and the idea stuck.

The bill for our trio: $33.30 plus tip.

A trip to Agatucci's had us thanking those World War Veterans Veterans all over again for saving the free world, and wanting pizza when they came home.

Agatucci's is open Wednesday through Sunday starting at five o'clock. Call ahead for carry out.

2607 University

Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 5pm-9:30pm
Friday-Saturday 5pm-10:30pm

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