Review: Flo & Santos Pizza and Pub

By Chuck Sudo in Food on May 24, 2010 7:00PM

There used to be a cheap eats place called Howie's that served up some better-than-average hot dogs and sandwiches, along with adult beverages. Since Howie's was indistinguishable from most other hot dog joints, however, it was a hard row for them to hoe being located, as they were, in the middle of Jerry Kleiner's South Wabash restaurant row. David Yanda and Bill Bolton, partners in Zapatista across the street, have transformed the former Howie's space into Flo & Santos Pub and Pizza, a casual Polish/Italian-themed space that holds some serious promise.

Flo & Santos isn't reinventing the wheel. Given the dearth of a good casual bar in the South Loop to grab a couple of beers and a pie while watching a game (on any of their five sizable flat screens hanging from the back bar), Yanda and Bolton are simply responding to the Business 101 tenet of supply and demand. Overall, the food here works well — the pizzas more than the sandwiches or wings &$151 and are given a final review at the pass from chef Mark Rimkus before reaching customers. Flo & Santos promotes a thin crust "South Side pizza" that shows they've been paying attention to Vito & Nick's, Phil's and Aurelio's.

For your money, however, you should probably experiment with the specialty pizzas. Flo & Santos' polish pizza is topped with a triple MVP of house made kielbasa, sauerkraut and crumbled bacon. It has a sodium content in the range of some fast food sandwiches, but it works. Flo & Santos' buffalo chicken pizza was well-crafted, with blue cheese melted perfectly into a wing sauce base, topped with onion greens. Dough for the pizzas is made from scratch; sit at the bar and you can't miss the industrial grade mixer in the kitchen at work. Each of these pizzas went down perfectly with a pint or two of Daisy Cutter. The quality of the pizzas and Rimkus' attention to detail for what comes out of his kitchen show some real promise for Flo & Santos.

Flo & Santos Pizza and Pub; 1310 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-566-9817