Chicago’s Vella Cafe: It’s not just for breakfast [and lunch] anymore

by Terry B on January 14, 2009

The popular Bucktown breakfast/lunch/brunch spot now serves up pizza three nights a week.

Looking at Vella Cafe’s airy, inviting space, its high ceilings festooned with a dozen or more vintage school light fixtures, it’s hard to imagine the place began as a panini stand under a 10-foot by 10-foot tent at Chicago’s Green City Market a couple of years ago.

Owners Sara Voden and Melissa Yen soon expanded their repertoire by hosting a crepe brunch at Kitchen Chicago in the summer. Later, they expanded again, trading their tent for a space with four walls and central air, tucked up against the Blue Line el tracks at the Western Avenue station, offering breakfast and lunch weekdays and brunch all day Saturdays and Sundays. Vella Cafe’s menu runs the gamut, from crepes and quiche on the weekend to panini, egg dishes, pancakes, a delicious sweet potato hash, house baked pastries and coffee. There are always vegetarian offerings too. On their website, they say their goal is “to become a part of the community by providing friendly service, a comfortable atmosphere and good, affordable food.” I think they’ve already achieved that.

Now they’ve expanded again, offering dinner three nights a week [for now]. From 5pm to 9pm Wednesdays through Fridays, Vella serves up a mostly pizza menu, along with salads, mac n’ cheese and desserts. Pizzas are the definite stars, 11-inch hand tossed pies with generous toppings and big flavor. Vella claims these pies serve one or two—we found that they easily serve two, especially if you split a salad as well. But go ahead and order one per person—they’re a mere 10 or 11 bucks each, and there are worse things than leftover pizza the next day. Vella Cafe is BYOB, which makes it an even bigger bargain.

Since discovering this little gem under the el tracks, we’ve eaten there countless times for the weekend brunch [which is not your typical overblown, overpriced affair, a plus in our book]. The food is unfailingly delicious and the entire staff is wonderfully welcoming. Now that we’ve tried the pizza, we know we’ll be back for that. You should get there too, before pizza nights are as bustling as their weekend brunches. You’ll find their complete menu [minus the daily specials] on their website.

Vella Cafe
1912 N. Western Ave.
Monday – Tuesday, 7am – 3pm
Wednesday – Friday, 7am – 9pm
Saturday – Sunday, 9am – 3pm
Delivery available


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa January 14, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Glad you liked the pizzas. Sorry you had to take them to go. Hope your daughter’s foot is feeling better. Marion, you finally got the roasted chicken you were craving! Yay! Now I think I am craving one. That should be simple enough for me to make over the weekend with not a lot of active time. Although I do confess to using all butter for basting! Just a small note, Terry. The hours you posted are our delivery hours. Our cafe hours are Mon – Tues 7am-3pm, Wed – Fri 7am-9pm & Sat-Sun 9am-3pm (Sorry, it gets a little confusing.)

Terry B January 14, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Hi, Melissa! Yep, Laurel’s fine now. And I’m sure the pizza we brought home helped her feel better. We’re looking forward to dining in one evening soon. Thanks for catching the hours mistake—I’ve now fixed it.

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