The former Symphony’s restaurant at 1945 Central St. is expected to reopen by the end of the year as DeSalvo’s Pizza, a pizza-by-the-slice “neighborhood eating and watering hole,” according to the new owners, Alex and Stacia DeSalvo.

The DeSalvos, along with Backlot Coffee co-owner John Kim, will be offering New York-style thin-slice pizza, focaccia and muffuletta sandwiches, stromboli and sausage rolls, salads and other food items as well as draft beer and even soft-serve ice cream.

“We want to make it as family-friendly as possible, as well as grab-and-go convenient for pandemic safety,” Stacia DeSalvo explained, adding that there will be a gluten-free crust option on the menu. All products will be “eco-friendly,” in compostable or recyclable containers.

The brick-oven-cooked New York-style pizzas will be “foldable but crispy,” Alex DeSalvo said. Customers can make their selections from an 80-inch-wide glass case of pre-cooked offerings or order custom-made pizzas with a variety of standard and special toppings, such as house-made Italian sausage, pickled peppers and a sauteed mushroom mix. “These are the kinds of touches that will make the restaurant unique,” he said.

Stacia (from left) and Alex DeSalvo and John Kim at the site of their new pizza restaurant at 1945 Central St., slated to open soon. (Photo by Les Jacobson)

Both Alex and Stacia DeSalvo grew up in the restaurant business – doing everything from waiting tables, bartending and managing – and met working at a Colorado eatery. They came to Chicago in 2011 so Alex DeSalvo could attend Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and met Kim at Brothers K Coffeehouse, which he co-owned.

Kim invited Alex DeSalvo to help run Boltwood restaurant in Evanston. At the time, Stacia DeSalvo was working at Farmhouse Evanston. “John brings wonderful restaurant ownership skills to the establishment,” she said.

Kim is originally from Dayton, Ohio, and came to Chicago in 1996 to work in finance. After getting a master’s degree in theology from Trinity University he worked as assistant pastor at the Evanston Bible Fellowship before taking over Café Express on Main Street with his brother Brian and renaming it Brothers K.

Since then he has started Other Brother, Boltwood and Backlot restaurants in Evanston and Old Irving Park Backlot in Chicago. He also owns Backlot Coffee Roasting.

Speaking of DeSalvo’s, Kim said, “We want people to feel welcome and ultimately we want to give back to the community.”

“We’re excited to bring something new to Central Street,” Stacia DeSalvo added. “It will be a really great spot for the community to gather.”

She said the restaurant is hiring for all positions and to contact her at for more information.

Les Jacobson

Les is a longtime Evanstonian and RoundTable writer and editor. He won a Chicago Newspaper Guild best feature story award in 1975 for a story on elderly suicide and most recently four consecutive Northern...

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