2679 N. Lincoln Ave. (GoogleMaps)
CPC invaded Pat's Pizza on 4/16/08.
The Chicago Pizza Club is growing. 8 people showed up tonight, including two new members. The venue, Pat's Pizza, has been in Lakeview since 1950. For most of that time, it was at 3114 N. Sheffield, a location that was recently replaced with a rather unattractive condo development across the street from the Vic Theater. Pat's moved about six blocks away to its current location. Fortunately, they remembered to bring their award-winning pizza recipes with them.
Pat's was recently named by Time Out Chicago as having the best bar style pizza in the city, suspiciously placing it one slot ahead of south side institution, Vito and Nick's. The CPC had to investigate.
The eight of us ordered five pies: A large thin quatro formagi, a large thin goat cheese and artichoke, a medium thin pesto and a medium thin taco pizza. In CPC-order-some-of-everything style, we also got a large pan sausage pizza. I am pleased to report that every pie was an unqualified success.
The quatro formagi was a spectacular blend of ricotta, gorgonzola, mozzarella, and parmesan. And garlic, a good amount of garlic. Sauce is optional of the four cheese pizza and we opted to have it. There wasn't much of it and with the heavy cheese flavor and the garlic, I didn't even notice it. The crust on the quatro formagi, like all of the thin crusts, was outstanding. It was cracker thin, not too oily to the touch, but with enough oil or butter to give it a lot more flavor than I expected from a crust so thin.
The taco pizza was topped with seasoned ground beef, refried beans, salsa, cheddar, mozzarella, lettuce, carrot, tomato and black olives. This was my introduction to taco pizza, though it has been ordered at a couple previous CPC meetings I did not attend, so I don't have a basis to compare it to. But those toppings, complemented by the perfect crunchy thin crust, made one excellent pizza.
The pesto pizza and the goat cheese and artichoke pizza were also both delicious. Particularly nice about the latter was the amount of goat cheese. Often, pizzerias put a couple of dollops of goat cheese on. Not so here - I think there was an entire layer. I would have preferred season artichoke hearts rather than the ones on this pie, that's a minor quibble.
I was initially hesitant to order the pan pizza as Pat's is so well known for it's thin crust pies. But I was quickly reminded that the CPC tries it all and I acquiesced. I'm glad I did. We got a simple pan pizza - nothing but Pat's homemade sausage. First, a word about the crust. I've never had a crust like this. It was about three times as thick as the thin crust (maybe 1/4 inch), but it was crunchy - like a well toasted piece of very good lightly-seasoned focaccia. The homemade sausage was delicious, though it was in such small bits that it was impossible to isolate a piece and eat it without the sauce. Speaking of the sauce, it was very noticeable on the pan pizza and that was a good thing. While not my favorite - I like a chunkier sauce and this one was chunk-free, the flavor was good - well-seasoned and not too sweet.
The food came quickly (less than 20 minutes), the service was good, the Cubs were beating the Reds on the big screen television, and the ambiance was fine, though a bit sterile (but the tablecloths and crayons were an unexpected nice touch). I was a little surprised that we had the restaurant to ourselves most of the night, but I think they do a big take-out business. Unlike the original location, this one is not BYOB.
As far as comparing Pat's to Vito & Nick's, I'm still torn. I definitely like the crust at Pat's, but I'm not sure about the toppings. The ambiance at Vito & Nick's is vastly superior, but since Pat's is five blocks from my house and Vito and Nick's is far away, my days of going to Vito & Nick's will be few and far between.
Petey gives Pat's Pizza an 8.0375/10.
The Sausage Pan Pizza
Artichoke and Goat Cheese
The Pesto Pizza
The Chicago Pizza Club in action