This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about Monical’s, so I won’t rehash the whole history. If you’re interested, there’s more information on my review about the store in Champaign, IL (review HERE). As a quick recap, Monical’s is a Central Illinois based pizza chain that my family ate at very often. The choices were either Pizza Hut or Monical’s. Like everything else with my family, I chose Pizza Hut because I liked their bread sticks better and everyone else chose Monical’s, so we ate at Monical’s a lot. Even though J grew up in Illinois, she had never been to a Monical’s. They don’t go that far north, but there were a couple stores in the Peoria area where we lived before moving to Lansing. We still never ate there.
J and I were home on a short vacation to see friends, family and my new niece. We got up on Monday and needed to make a grocery store run and find food. We could do both by driving fifteen miles south to Gilman and that would give her a chance to finally try Monical’s Pizza.
The newer Monical’s stores are pretty small. During the day, you order at the front counter then take a seat in the dining room. We grabbed a menu and looked it over to see what we were going to eat. I wanted to make sure she tried both a pizza and a salad. The reason most people love Monical’s is because of the Sweet & Tart dressing which is pretty similar to a French dressing. We ordered a 12″ cheese pizza, two individual salads, and two pops after the guy making the pizza finally noticed and acknowledged us standing there. There were only two people working and neither looked like they really wanted to take our order.
After putting in the order. We took our little number triangle and found a booth in the dining room. It was just after noon and there were a few other people in the dining room, but not a whole lot. Not long after sitting down, the server brought out our drinks followed by the two individual salads. The salads are just iceburg lettuce with tomatoes, cheese, and carrots, but like I said, it’s the dressing that makes them stand out. Initially, J put a little bit of their creamy Italian dressing on, but I talked her into trying the Sweet & Tart. She ended up putting that on all of her salad.
The thing with the Sweet & Tart dressing is that people actually put it on their pizza. When our pie arrived, the server took our salad bowls but left the dressing bottles. I had to explain to J that the thing to do was to dip the pizza in the dressing. I never do it, but everyone else I know does. She tried it and said it was ok, but nothing special.
The pizza itself is a super thin crust pizza. The crust is nice and crispy and topped with a thin layer of sauce, a thin layer of cheese and a number of different Italian spices. I’ve never had pizza anywhere that looks or tastes like Monical’s. It’s a really good pizza, but it’s also really hard to stop eating because it isn’t all that satisfying. The super thin crust doesn’t give you a whole lot of food, so you keep eating and eating until there is nothing left and you want more. For what it is, I’ve always thought Monical’s was a little expensive since you usually leave wanting more.
J said she really enjoyed her first visit to my childhood pizza place. In the last two trips home, she introduced me to the place she grew up going to (Palermo’s 95th. Review HERE), and now I’ve done the same to her. Monical’s Pizza is a treat if you’ve never had it. In Central Illinois, they are the pizza kings. When you ask someone to recommend a pizza joint, they will almost always say Monical’s. I would do the same if you’ve never had it and I probably would even if you had because that’s all I have ever eaten. I’m not sad that there are none in Mid-Michigan, but it is a nice treat when I go home.