Aurelio’s: Knockoff Frozen Pizza Could Ruin Restaurant’s Reputation

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cooked up since 1959, Aurelio’s Pizza is a Chicago area classic. 

The Aurelio family still operates two restaurants and franchises another 42, insisting that the dough be hand-made on site and that only a proprietary mix of cheese be sprinkled on top.

The crust should be “crispy on the bottom, light and fluffy in the middle,” Joe Aurelio, president of the company, tells CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole. “It shouldn’t flop over when you pick it up. It should be firm.”

But a version of the pizza bearing the Aurelio’s name is not living up to the family’s high standards, the family says.

Customers of an Aurelio’s franchisee in Frankfort contracted out to a Peotone frozen pizza factory to make a version to sell at fundraisers. People who have sampled the frozen pizza say “the crust was dry, it was a wimpy pizza and it just wasn’t up to the Aurelio’s standard,” Aurelio says.

The machine-made frozen pizza also had fewer products on top, he said.

“It hurts me to hear on the street the pizza doesn’t taste good,” Joe Aurelio says.

The family, to protect its years of hard work and multi-million dollar reputation, is now filing a lawsuit against that franchisee and the pizza factory. They also have locked up in a freezer the suspect pizza to be analyzed later for evidence.

 “If it has Aurelio’s  name on it it should be Aurelio’s  product underneath it, ” says Aurelio.

Aurelio’s has been praised by some big cheeses. Local comedian Jane Lynch talked about it on “The Tonight Show,” and area astronaut Daniel Tani gave Aurelio’s a stellar shout-out, saying it’s the thing he missed most about Earth when he was in space.

The Frankfort franchisee, Joe Pascale, and the makers of the frozen pizza, Teresa Foods, both declined comment.

The Aurelio family said even though they have a more than 20-year history with the franchisee, they had to file their lawsuit; otherwise, they could lose legal rights to their trademark.

More from Vince Gerasole
  • Ben Adamowski

    The brothers of the BOBAK SAUAGE did the same thing,they ran two food stores in Orland Park and Burr ridge and sold sausage products that were made elswhere and then put the Bobak label on it and sold in their stores,they were found guilty in Federal court.

  • Ben Adamowski

    Thats why both stores don’t excists anymore,but the oldest brother still runs the original store and sausage company on Archer ave. near Cicero.

  • frankglio

    must be a slow news day

  • Larry Leonardo

    must be a slow news day but great free advertising opportunity….thats about $10,000 in advertising ….good coverage

  • Sancho

    Wow…Joe Aurelio should be ashamed of himself. The event in question was a fundraiser for the Homewood Flossmoor High School. They contacted the Homewood Aurelios first, but as Joe Aurelio does not support his communty, they went to the Frankfort location. The Frankfort owner is a major contributor to his community. Donations of pizzas and gift certificates are written out almost daily. Fundraising events. Food and pizza sent to homeless shelters. The whole Lincoln-Way area is aware of his community donations. The only reason that Joe Aurelio is upset, is that it was the Homewood High School, which is in his back yard. Now Homewood says that they will have a fundraiser for the school. Where where they 2 months ago when the school reached out to them for help??? I’ll tell you where. Counting their $$$. Joe Aurelio Jr. is a selfish little man.

    • Nancy McCallum

      Wow…Sancho – You are wrong, very wrong. I lived in Homewood for 21 years and Aurelio’s has been and is a staple in the Homewood, Flossmoor & neighboring communities. I have been on the board of the Homewood Beautification Committee and on the Board for the HF HIgh School Band and we have always had Aurelio’s support in EVERYTHING we do. I have NEVER heard of Aurelio’s to say NO. Joe Aurelio has always given 110% to his community. A few years ago Joe Aurelio supported a team of women that took part in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I will never forget the support that Joe and the Aurelio family gave to me and our team. Shame on you, Sancho.

  • Mancy NcCallum

    Beat it lady, I agree with Sancho! The Frankfort owner has been one of the biggest contributors in our community.

    • Nancy McCallum

      It appears that my comment was not read properly by Mancy NcCallum. Let me explain my comment in simple terms for you. Not one time in my comment did I say anything about Mr.Joe Pascale. I do not know Mr. Pascale personally so I will not make a claim to know him and his support of his community. My comment are in support of Mr. Joe Aurelio and his support of his community. I do know Joe Aurelio and I have seen first hand for over 21 years the support that the Aurelio family has given to the Homewood, Flossmoor and neighboring communities. Simple enough?

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