Stretchino's Offers New Local Pizza Option
For Oak Lawn man, making great food isn't a stretch.
There’s a new pizzeria in town that’s already threatening to knock a few local kings off their thrones—Stretchino’s Pizzeria—in Chicago Ridge.
Owner/former medical headhunter Tim Stretch is hoping that three’s a charm since taking over the old Papa Luigi’s space in December. In just a few short months Stretchino’s Chicago-style pizza, Italian beef and breaded steak sandwiches are winning 5-star raves on Yelp.
“We’re eight weeks into it now,” Stretch said after a recent lunch rush. “We’re trying to regain the trust of the community because the last couple of businesses that have been here did a number on the community.”
Stretch is used to reinventing himself. After getting downsized twice out of corporate America and with $100 to his name, he bought an 800-number and started recruiting nursing directors and managers for hospitals and medical centers across the country.
Like anyone who works from home day in and day out, he admits to getting a little squirrely.
“I was making good money. It wasn’t a matter of leaving the industry,” he said. “Working from home you get socially desensitized. As much as you love your job, working and living at home is all you see. I’m a people kind of guy. I need that social interaction.”
Stretch began making his own pizza while living in Texas, where he says there wasn’t a decent pizza place to be found.
“They used processed sausage for pizzas that looked like cat treat morsels,” he said. "I literally walked out of a pizza place when I saw that. I told the guy, ‘if you were in Chicago you wouldn’t be in business more than month.”
Stretch took to the kitchen, conjuring up with his own special pizza dough and sauce. He also experimented with Italian beef (the secret is in the gravy). Stretch knew he was on to something when he brought his Chicago-style pizza and Italian beef to a good ol’ boys’ tailgate party in Louisiana.
“They brought gumbo and jambalaya, I brought Italian beef. They thought it was French dip,” Stretch said. “They devoured it. Ever since then I made my own.”
Last summer—after bringing some of his pies to his son’s baseball game—his son’s coach suggested that he open up his own pizza joint. Stretch went so far as to conduct a taste test in front of the Ridgeland Avenue Jewel, pitting his own pies against some of the other local faves.
“Seventy-percent of the people chose my pizza over the other two,” Stretch said. “The (Jewel) manager kicked me out. He said I had a lot of nerve.”
He threw caution to the wind and found an empty storefront sandwiched between Glenn Maker American Legion Post and Jack and Pat’s Old Fashioned Market, where Stretch now buys most of his meats.
Stretchino’s serves up classic Chicago-style pizza on a thin cracker crust with generous amounts of sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, black and green olives and anchovies (only one person has ordered anchovies).
The menu also features burgers, Italian beef (the gravy is among the best I've had locally), meatball, breaded steak, Philly steak and chicken sandwiches, pasta dishes and sides.
Stretchino’s Pizzeria is located at 10729 S. Ridgeland Ave. in Chicago Ridge. Stretchino’s is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and offers pick-up and delivery service to Chicago Ridge, Oak Lawn, Alsip, Worth and Palos. Call 708-422-4600. A small dining room is also available. Like Stretchino's on Facebook.