Hi this is Leslie Harris, and the woman who changed the face of pizza in Chicago has passed away. Nancy Palese and her husband Rocco created the stuffed pizza that Chicago has come to be known by.
You know her better as Nancy of Nancy’s Pizza, and she died on January 20th at the age of 87.
She was born Annunziata Scarano in Italy, and was only 14 when she married her husband Rocco in 1948. They moved to Chicago in 1969, and in the early seventies they opened Guy’s pizza at Kostner and Armitage.
A few years later, the first Nancy’s Pizza opened, with stuffed pizza on the menu, at 7309 West Lawrence Avenue in Harwood Heights. Chicago Magazine once named it Chicago’s Best Pizza, and it was a big seller at ChicagoFest, the precursor to Taste of Chicago.
One of their employees, Dave Howey, organized the franchising of the restaurants, and there are still about 30 Nancy’s pizzas in the country, mostly in northern Illinois, including Roselle, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Woodridge. Nancy would stop in to the Niles location all the way up until 2019.
Rest well Nancy, and thanks for all of the delicious meals.