Life is full of fun surprises, and some of the best are known to happen at The Loop Taste of Chicago.

Take, for example, the remarkable coincidence that floored one Chicago transplant who now lives in Tucson.

Joe Bergl stopped by the Oro Valley pizzeria and restaurant at the invitation of its owners, Mark and Marcie Rusin. What he saw there brought a huge grin to his face and flooded him with great memories of his childhood in the Windy City.

Joe and Mark had met through a mutual friend a few days before. The three reminisced about their days in Chicago — Mark from the South Side, Joe from the West Side, and their friend, Wayne, a New Yorker who attended Loyola University.

Mark stunned Joe with his familiarity of Joe’s family business, Bergl Chevrolet. Mark had seen the car dealership sign thousands of times growing up in Chi-Town and knew how to spell the name correctly (no second “e”).

But Joe could never have guessed the other surprise waiting for him inside The Loop, where the walls are filled with all kinds of Chicago memorabilia, everything from sports jerseys and posters to pictures of Al Capone and Eliot Ness. Joe asked Mark if he had ever been to Riverview Park, the city’s famed amusement park that was a summer staple for kids growing up in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Mark, who was born in 1955, replied, “of course.” He then showed Joe the framed story about Riverview with photos taken there from the ‘30s and ‘40s displayed on the Loop’s front wall.

Joe stared in disbelief at the photo collage. His mom was pictured at Riverview riding the roller coaster. Mark responded, “Get outta here,” as he strolled over to the picture for a closer look. Joe pointed to the beautiful blond girl smiling brightly up at the camera in the summer of 1936. “That’s my mom!” Joe told Mark.

The following day Joe returned with pictures of his mom that proved the pretty girl on the roller coaster was indeed his mother. He also brought in a magazine that had printed the same picture; underneath was a caption identifying the carefree girls in the photo as “Chorus Girls from Chez Paree night club risked getting sunburn in 1936.” Joe still has the 18-karat gold key with the engraved letters “CP,” for Chez Paree, given to him by his dad.

Joe remains a regular customer, but you don’t have to be a Chicago transplant to enjoy The Loop’s delicious deep-dish and thin-crust pizzas and entrees, prepared by Chef David Royle, as well as outdoor dining with mountain views, and family-friendly atmosphere.

Be sure to stop by today. You never know what remarkable surprises The Loop Taste of Chicago has in store for you!

If you go

What: The Loop Taste of Chicago

What: Chicago-style pizza, sandwiches, entrees and pasta

Where: 10180 N. Oracle Road, Oro Valley

More info: (520) 878-0222 or www.thelooptasteofchicago.com

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