So, it's kind of been a little while since I've posted anything in here. Pizza Club has been on a short hiatus due to some hectic work schedules, so I thought instead of a review of a new place, I would do a couple write ups on some of my most frequented pizza joints here in Chicago. As it turns out, there are near 2,000 places here in the greater Chicago area and many of them (not all) are pretty fantastic; however there are a few of my favorites that I visit more than most any others.
First on my list is a place that is one of Chicagoland's favorite's. It has been featured in a truckload of local and national food magazines and television programs and features it's own legend and rivalry. The place I'm referring to of course, is Pequod's. So, for anyone not familiar with the pizza from Pequod's, it is one of the greatest Pan pizzas (not technically deep dish) known to mankind. The secret to the wonder that is the Pequod's Pan pizza is the layer of caramelized cheese that runs between the crust and the pan. It may just change your life.
Now, Pequod's is not without it's own sullied story. There is a unique lore that involves a pretty serious split between the original owner, legendary pizza entrepeneur Bert Katz and the current owner. I won't go too far into the drama of it all, but word on the street is that they aren't such good pals. Here is a clip of the lovable curmudgeon himself with Anthony Bourdain, who happens to be talking smack on Deep Dish.
So, another one of my go-to's is a Logan Square bar that happens to serve up some amazing slices. The Boiler Room at California and Milwaukee is a nice dark bar space with a great beer selection, rotating local art, decor based around the Chicago Transit Authority, and some really tasty pies. With regular slices such as the Purist (Basil, mozzarella, and balsamic reduction) and the Boiler Room (Pabst meatballs, house made giardiniera) and whole pies that range from a carribean jerk to a cuban pulled pork, they do a lot to challenge and please the palette of the average bar crowd. Often playing music that ranges from 90's style punk rock to underground hip hop and showing great cult movies on two mirrored screens over the bar, it has a very young and hip atmosphere, but maintains it's accessibility.
Now, this bar happens to be right between work and home for me, and when you work until 11pm or later every night, a slice and a beer may as well be the song of the siren luring me into the welcoming doors of the Boiler Room. I definitely recommend this place for anyone in the area, or if eating and drinking in a casual environment without sacrificing quality seems to be on the agenda.
My third entry covers the world of the classic Neapolitan style pizza. Now, Neapolitan is kind of a big thing in Chicago in the past 3 years; often referred to as brick oven or wood fired, it is the original style of pizza created in Naples (Italy, not Florida) 400 years ago. There are many contenders here in Chicago as to who has the best classic Italian pie, but for me, there is one clear winner. Located in Lincoln Square/Ravenswood Manor, the Pizza Art Cafe is one of my favorite and most highly recommended pizzerias in Chicago.
Now, this cozy little eatery ranks so highly for me, not just for the food, but the atmosphere. The menu is extensive, covering both Northern and Southern Italian staples, and also paying a little homage to the owner's Bosnian heritage offering traditional smoked sausages and meat pies. The restaurant itself is a BYOB and a great spot for a date, offering casually intimate space and low lighting. I will say, sometimes the service offers a little to be desired, but all in all, this place is amazing. A definite neighborhood favorite on the north side, I cannot fight my cravings for the delightful food they offer up.
Now, these are only a small sampling of what our fair city offers as far as the pizza available here. These are only a few of my favorites, but definitely toward the top. One of the greatest things about doing the Deep Dish tours is that I get to hear about so many new places in the city and surrounding area. I hear about new places all the time. Pizza is also the great leveler. Regardless of class, creed, religion, denomination, or political affiliation most people world wide can agree that pizza pretty much rules. Therefore, grab a piece of peace, a slice of life and have a great month! I will be back in June to tell of more pizza adventures and new slices sampled.