Art of Pizza [Map]
3033 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60657-3035
CPC invaded Art of Pizza on 12/19/08.
At our last meeting, the members of the Chicago Pizza Club came to the realization that our social lives were no longer so exciting that the unofficial ban on weekend pizza club meetings needed to remain. Rather than being depressed about the realization that our post-college social peaks are behind us, we embraced it and immediately scheduled a Friday night meeting.
And so it was that we ended up at Art of Pizza last night. In 2001, Phil Vettel and a team of about three dozen reporters and editors from the Chicago Tribune tried deep dish and stuffed pizzas from more than 100 different Chicago area restaurants and determined that Art of Pizza has the best deep dish pizza in Chicago. Now, given that #2 was awarded to the Hyde Park location of Pizza Capri, and that both Chicago's and Exchequer were given Honorable Mention (which puts them in the top 13), it is clear that this team would not fit in well with the Chicago Pizza Club. Still, some of us knew Art of Pizza to offer a quality pie, and any place that gets high praise from Phil Vettel and thousands of pizza-eating Chicagoans is more than worthy of a visit from the CPC. And any place that is BYOB and charges no corkage fee is worthy of a visit on a Friday night.
Art of Pizza offers stuffed, pan, and thin crust pies. The nine of us split three large pizzas, one of each variety. Up first was the thin crust pizza which we got with sausage on the whole thing and giardinera on half of it (to accommodate those members with sensitive stomachs and palates). The sausage had some fennel and a noticeable amount of garlic. Texturally, it had some nice chew, but was definitely not rubbery. The giardinera, as is typically the case, was strong. Unfortunately, the giardinera overpowered the sausage, a problem that could have been fixed with either more sausage or less giardinera. The sauce, which was a little sparse on the thin crust, was well-seasoned - I'd call it zesty - and the cheese, which was generously applied, seemed to be a decent quality mozzarella.
The pan pizza arrived next. For that pizza, we went with Art's Meaty Delight, which includes sausage, bacon, ground beef, pepperoni and sliced beef. Like many pan pizzas in Chicago, this is essentially a deep dish pizza that has cheese on top instead of sauce as it comes with a crust that's at least half an inch thick. And what a crust it was. The thick, crisp, light crust at Art of Pizza is full of herbs that are not overwhelming, but are strong enough to stand up the substantial amounts of cheese, tangy sauce and, in this case, five kinds of meat. Speaking of the meats, they were all generously applied on the pizza, and while that made for a good deal of salt, the cheese and sauce were sufficient to balance things out.
Our stuffed pizza was Art's Vegetarian, which comes with mushrooms, onions, green peppers, tomato slices, broccoli and spinach. The bottom crust was almost as thick (maybe as thick) as the crust on the pan pizza, which is unique for a stuffed pizza. Given the amount of toppings that were stuffed inside this pie and the moisture that is inevitable when that many fresh vegetables are involved, that thick crust may have been necessary to prevent the pie from devolving into a wet mess. Necessary or not, the crust, which had the same herbs (and maybe oil?) as the pan pizza, was a welcome inclusion. By virtue of it being on top of the pizza and the fact that vegetables don't have as strong flavors as meat, the stuffed pizza was the one where we were most able to taste the chunky, flavorful sauce.
A couple of final notes worth mentioning. Art of Pizza gives out free liters of pop to anyone who spends over $11 pre-tax, and 2 liters for orders over $22. However, that offer is limited to take out and delivery orders. While we were disappointed by the policy, the wine we brought (BYOB!) more than made up for it. Also, Art of Pizza has a full menu beyond pizza, though I didn't notice anyone eating anything other than pizza and salad. They have lunch and dinner specials every day, but oddly for a pizzeria, not a single special involves pizza.
Petey gives Art of Pizza a 7.60625.
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Saturday, December 20, 2008
Art of Pizza [Map]