Earlier this year, when chef Joe Farina left his stint as Rosebud's corporate chef, he got in touch with childhood friend Tony Gambino to pursue a long-held dream of working together. Gambino, who owns the Armand’s Pizzeria chain of neighborhood pizza spots, wanted to expand and open a batch of full-service restaurants sporting the Armand’s name. Thus, Armand’s Victory Tap was born, combining Armand’s pizza with Farina’s Italian-American dishes. The first Victory Tap is now open in the City Tavern space that’s been vacant for two years at 1416 S. Michigan Ave. in the South Loop.
Those familiar with Farina’s dishes at Rosebud—his meatballs, chicken parmesan and classics like shrimp DeJonge—should be comfortable with the menu at Victory Tap. "We’re using the same fresh ingredients," Farina said.
While the location does plenty of pizza carry-out and delivery business, the dine-in menu deemphasizes those pies. Instead there’s a line of 10-inch appetizer pizzas, including several with olive oil bases. The offerings, like steak and seafood, are more upscale than what Armand’s diners are accustomed to—some Armand’s are tiny, only selling pizza slices. But Gambino and Farina haven’t installed upscale prices. The crispy lemon chicken at $29 is the priciest item on the menu. There are also 18 beers and 25 wines by the glass.
Gambino and Farina grew up in Melrose Park, and Armand’s is popular in the suburbs. They’re planning makeovers at Armand’s in LaGrange and Lombard, bringing in Farina’s items and transitioning toward the Victory Tap name. The original Armand’s opened in 1956 in Elmwood Park and closed in 2009 after a 53-year-run of serving square-cut Chicago-style thin crust. Gambino acquired the chain after that shutter.
There’s certainly pizza competition along that stretch of Michigan Avenue in the South Loop with Armand’s, Aurelio’s and Flo & Santos. But that’s why, as Farino pointed out, that "they’re more than a pizzeria."
Check out the full menu below.
Armand's Victory Tap, 1416 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 566-9300, open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.