LINCOLN PARK — When Lisa Marie Varon isn't laying the smack down inside the ring as a professional wrestler, she will be running the front of the house at her new pizza and burger joint on Ashland Avenue.
Varon's The Squared Circle opened Thursday night at 2418 N. Ashland Ave. The name is a wrestling reference that dates to the Greco-Roman days.
The restaurant will serve New York-style thin pizzas such as the Hangover Helper topped with pepperoni, bacon and an egg, but the specialty will be the Squared Circle deep dish with a duck fat caramelized crust.
"You can't reinvent pizza in Chicago, but we are trying to do our own take on it," said Lee Varon, Lisa's husband, who will be in the kitchen most nights.
Lisa Maria Varon, who goes by Tara in the ring and lives in Lincoln Park, wasn't far from their new restaurant Thursday night during the opening, as she was performing at TNA IMPACT Wrestling which was broadcast live on Spike TV from the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.
Varon wrestled in World Wrestling Entertainment under the ring name Victoria for most of the 2000s. She debuted with Total Nonstop Action as Tara in 2009.
The restaurant, which is adorned with wrestling memorabilia donated by fellow TNA stars, features a menu of her guilty pleasures: pizza and burgers.
Similar to their duck fat-take on deep dish pizza, the Varons decided to take their burgers to another level by stuffing each with cheese.
"We are kind of late to the gourmet burger race, so we are stuffing all of our burgers," Lee Varon said.
The burgers are also topped with the cheeses, such as Merkts cheddar and gouda.
The Varons know that while wrestling fans will come in to watch pay-per-view events on the restaurant's numerous flat screens and to see Tara, if the food is not top-notch they don't stand a chance.
"They are going to come in to see the Jeff Hardy poster once, but only good food will bring them back," Lee Varon said.
Lisa Marie Varon will be at the restaurant almost every day they are open, as she is only on the road for two weekends each month.
Although she won't be making the pies every night, her first job was at a pizza place, and she has the experience, her husband said.
"She can throw some dough," Lee Varon said.
Menu items such as the Hangover Helper pizza go for $12.50 for a small and $25 for a large. The Squared Circle duck fat deep dish pizzas cost $14 for a small and $22 for a large, plus $2 for each additional ingredient.
The burgers include the $11 Big Vic, stuffed and topped with Merkts cheddar, and the $13 Windy City, stuffed with Gouda and topped with sauteed mushrooms, onion rings, avocado, Gouda and aioli.