Papa Del’s: Pizza To Remember
A couple months back I wrote about my “Champaign Heaven,” the place where I went to school. Since I still have friends there, I visit fairly frequently and during my most recent visit (this past weekend) I realized I left out something quite important.
That something is a legendary landmark of a pizza place called Papa Del’s.
I call it legendary because they undoubtedly serve the best pan-style pizza on campus. I call it a landmark because it represents a part of campus life that’s beginning to cross generations. Having opened in 1970, many alumni parents who visit their children at the U of I (Champaign) eat at least one of their meals at Papa Del’s. Why? Because they remember going there when they went to school, and the pizza is still the best. It’s a connecting thread – a place where the past can reminisce and the future can make its own memories.
Back in Chicago (where I am now), we’re known for our pizza. We’re known for our Lou Malnati’s, Pizano’s, Giordano’s and what have you. It’s “Chicago style,” also known as pan or deep dish. So when I came to Champaign, the only place I found that remotely even compared was Papa Del’s.
But what I eventually found is that I liked it better. I grew to love the sweet sauce, the perfect cheese and the crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside- crust. I began to love it sooo much that when I discovered the “half-off pan slices” at 3 p.m., I’d dart there every day so I could hoard slices of pan cheese or mushroom in my freezer. I’m not kidding, I treated this stuff like gold (ask my former roommates!)
So I just wanted to get the word out. Papa Del’s is fantastic. Sure, I could try and make my own pizza whenever I want, but now that I’m an alumni, it’s a rare treat to have my Papa Del’s.