TRIPOLI TAP TAVERN Does a Pandemic Pivot with Fabulous Pizza


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Tripoli Tavern Tap


Tripoli Tap Tavern, long a Northside neighborhood favorite, is one of many small local places that are doing their best to get through the pandemic. Chicago’s business environment, laboring under the current health scare, is ripe for innovation, and Tripoli Tap Tavern is pivoting to serve what many Chicago bars have been unable to serve for years: a “tavern pizza” that’s made fresh in-house with imaginative and high-quality ingredients, then put in front of the customer still steaming from the oven.


With Covid-19 descending upon us, Chef Dean Zanella thought long and hard about how to keep his Tripoli Tap Tavern running strong. Now, working with buddy John Durning – who brings to the game Fire Within, his mobile wood-burning pizza oven  – Zanella has some outstanding pies to serve from his new pizza menu, including:


  • The Deano, an intriguing combination of Calabrian honey (that’s right, the stuff Italian bees make), soppressata, as well as mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes (of course!).


  • The Nic, with the ubiquitous mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes, and here festooned with Italian sausage and shaved meatballs (we didn't know that Italian meatballs could be hairy; no matter, The Nic is awesome).


Or you can build your own pizza on a base of mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes (what else?) by adding unexpected ingredients like pandemic-fighting garlic and chili oil, both believed to have antibacterial properties, and all just plain delicious.


Tripoli Tavern Tap


If pie is not what you’re in the mood to munch, check out Tripoli Tap Tavern’s hugely popular grinders, served both hot or cold, with fries or tater tots (both very good, but we recommend the tots). Zanella is offering up classic sandwiches like the house-made Italian sausage with peppers and a chicken parmesan. He’s also got some veg-forward favorites like the Grilled Vegetarian and the Caprese (fresh mozz’, basil, pesto, red wine vinegar and heirloom tomatoes from Nichols’ Farm, which like all ingredients on these grinders, are the very best). For around ten bucks, these sandwiches are some of the finest fistfuls of food you’ll find in the city.


In addition to outstanding pizza and grinders -- both of which are so good, you should really give them a try -- the Tap Tavern now offers contact-free takeout or delivery of food that will remind you of why you love eating in Chicago.


Tripoli Tap Tavern is representative of many small Chicago bars and restaurants that have been around for years and are now adjusting to meet the demands of a changing business climate with practices that are very likely to remain useful in the long-term. It’s very cool to see how Chicago bars and restaurants, large and small, are pivoting – changing the way they do business – during the pandemic. The best places are experimenting with new ways of doing business, and some of these practices are likely to stay around long after the pandemic has become a memory (finger crossed that this time will come sooner rather than later).


Vegetarian Grinder at Tripoli Tap Tavern