Welcome

This is the blog and public record of the Chicago Pizza Club. We eat a lot of pizza and share our thoughts on it as well as post any relevant pizza news we come across.

We invite you to post any comments on anywhere you have eaten under our review of that establishment. If you have any questions, please read the FAQs on the sidebar first to see if it has already been answered. Please note that we are at capacity and are not seeking new members. And finally, if you have a place you think we should try, have some other inquiry, or want to send us love/hatemail then please contact us at:

ChicagoPizzaClub@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

[Chicago Pizza News] Homer Simpson's Wildest Dream Has Come True

If you read this blog, the chances are you love pizza. If you love pizza, the chances are you love beer. You probably even love pizza with beer. But what about pizza-flavored beer?

Too good to be true, your inner Homer says? Well, a suburban Chicago couple has developed Mamma Mia Pizza Beer. It's being brewed and bottled by Sprecher Brewing Company in Wisconsin.

If you are in Chicago, head over to Sam's and pick it up for $1.99/bottle. If you are not in Chicago, you can order it online.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

[Chicago Pizza News] Pizza.com sells for $2.6 million

In 1994, Chris Clark registered the domain name pizza.com when he had a consulting company and was hoping to get some contracts with a pizza company. He sold his consulting company in 2000, but continued to spend $20 a year to keep the website. He just sold it for $2.6 million.

Perhaps someday, some fool will give the CPC $50 for our website. That would be awesome.

[Chicago Pizza News] Pennsylvania Town Has Delusions of Grandeur

Chicagoans have enough trouble dealing with self-important New Yorkers declaring their hometown to be the best place in the world for pizza. But now it appears there's another whose populace we're going to have to listen to. Old Valley Forge, PA, population 10,000, has
declared itself to the Pizza Capital of the World.

This is obviously silly, but the town, located 5 miles outside of Scranton, does seem to have an interesting pizza history and a high concentration of pizzerias. For one thing, the local places do not use mozzarella cheese. I'm not sure what cheese they actually use - it's apparently a secret. The pizzas there are rectangular and come in two varieties, red, which has sauce, and white, which has none. The white pizza is particularly unique as it has an equally-thick layer of crust on top and on the bottom.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

About the Grading Scale

One of the stated goals of the Chicago Pizza Club is to rank the pizzas we consume. We have used a basic scale of 1-10, which works fine. The only problem has been that we have not used a guide for what different numbers mean. As a result, we noticed that many of our numerical rankings did not accurately reflect our feelings about the rankings of the pizzas.

So, when looking at numbers assigned before April 23, 2008, know that the guide was not in place.

To make it crystal clear, while we comment on anything and everything that goes into our experience, our numerical score only represents the quality of the food and nothing else.

For pizzerias we visit after April 23, 2008, here is a guide to the numbers:

  • 10 - A perfect pizza, one that cannot be bettered in any way
  • 8 - An excellent mix of quality ingredients and flavors; I would gladly eat this pizza regularly
  • 6 - A good pizza, perhaps very good in some respects, but only average in others (often found in pies with good toppings, but flavorless crusts)
  • 4 - Tolerable if no other options are around and I am really hungry
  • 2 - Pizza by definition only (has all the "right" ingredients and is cooked in an oven, but has no redeeming features)
  • 0 - Cannot finish a slice

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

[Chicago Pizza News] Uno's Seeks to Move Further From Chicago Pizza Roots

Last week, I wrote about Uno's Chicago Grill being named the healthiest chain restaurant in America. Well, the Boston-based pizza chain (yes, you read that right - Uno's has been a Boston corporation for years) is not content in its quest for healthy food.

The Boston Globe reported today that Uno's is getting close to unveiling a low-calorie, gluten-free deep-dish pizza.

[Chicago Pizza News] The Gestalt of Pizza?

Hey Pizza Lovers! I just read an interesting article in the new issue of Wired Magazine and wanted to share it with all of you. Ok, ok... so this news item isn't about Chicago pizza per se — the author here focuses on the differences between New York and California pizza — but it does bring up some pretty interesting ideas about some of the overlooked aspects that go into making a delicious pizza. You can read more in the latest issue of Wired, or just follow this handy link here to read it online. Enjoy!

[Meet the Members] Chand



Screen Name: chand

Real Name: Chand

Came out of the Oven: Chicago, Illinois

Favorite toppings: Pepperoni, green peppers, onions

First Pizza Club Meeting: April 13, 2006 (Barcello's)

Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Gino's East

Favorite Stuffed Pizza: none

Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Nino's and Aurelio's — the pizzas of my childhood.

Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: Some place in NYC at 3am.

Had Pizza in the Motherland? Yes, but it was at a cafe that didn't specialize in it.

Personal Pizza Statement: I love pizza! Be it sporting events, birthdays, or even breakfast, pizza is a special kind of food that completes what I (and I believe most of us) consider good times. I'm proud to be living in the true pizza capital and looking forward to exploring more of our city's delicacies as a member of the esteemed Chicago Pizza Club.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

[Meet the Members] Rebecca



Screen Name: rebecca

Real Name: Rebecca

Came out of the Oven: Chicago, 1981

Favorite toppings: Sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, fresh basil

First Pizza Club Meeting: April 16, 2008 (Pat's Pizza)

Favorite Stuffed Pizza: Edwardo's Spinach (I know, I know, there's just something magical about it)

Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Pat's Pizza

Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: Pizzeria Bianco

Had Pizza in the Motherland? Yes, it was fair. Chicago has given Pizza a whole new meaning.

Personal Pizza Statement: I like to keep things simple and eat vegetarian pizza. The nuances of the cheese and other ingredients are that much more exciting without all the meat. Deal with it!

Monday, April 21, 2008

[Chicago Pizza News] You Think Gas Has Gone Up - Check Out Pizza Ingredients

In what could be the most devastating story so far in this recession that everyone but the current President seems agree we are entering, the prices for some key pizza ingredients are skyrocketing. According to the New York Times,

Flour prices are up 93 percent from February 2007 to February this year, and cheese jumped 25 percent, federal statistics show.
However, relief could be on the way. According to this profile of how rising costs have affected a couple small pizzerias in Malden, MA,
Ramsey said he expects wheat and flour prices to fall in the next six months, as U.S. farmers begin to harvest winter wheat in June. Ramsey said he also anticipates that tomato prices — assuming that the weather cooperates — and cheese costs will come down, too.

[Meet the Members] Kelly



Screen Name: Kelly

Real Name: Kelly, official photographer of the Chicago Pizza Club

Came out of the Oven: Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the year of the dragon (which one, I'll never tell!)

Favorite toppings: Garlic and extra garlic

First Pizza Club Meeting: Salerno's - Monday, February 27, 2006 (although I was there in spirit many years before, I swear!)

Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Pequod's pepperoni, onions and garlic

Favorite Stuffed Pizza: Lou Malnati's sausage

Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Bacino's broccoli

Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: Beau Jo's in Colorado (mmm honey for your crust!)

Had Pizza in the Motherland? Yup, been twice in several cities. Nothing to write home about. Its fine, but authentic doesn't always mean better! Chicago has upped the ante.

What Do You Do When Not Eating Pizza?  Well… I am a full-time graduate student at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. I am working on my PhD in Cancer Cell and Molecular Biology and currently looking for a job in the Miami, Florida area (yeah, land of crappy pizza, but beautiful weather!) Outside the lab I enjoy not only Chicago Pizza Club meetings, but photography (favorite subject to photograph = Chicago Pizza Club), triathlons, softball, beach volleyball, hanging out at the pool, going to movies with my husband and anything that involves J├ĄgerBombs.

Personal Pizza Statement: I never met a pizza I didn't like. Then came along Friday, March 21, 2008, aka 'pies we tried so you wouldn't have to' night. I'm not a snob with a super refined palate or anything, but woah. If I can help save one more person from never having to eat that crap if they don't have to, then by golly, I'm down. CPC is here to stay and we are going to change the world!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

[Meet the Members] Kate



Screen Name: kate-d.

Real Name: Kate

Came out of the Oven: Steel City aka City of Champions

Favorite toppings: Pepperoni and garlic

First Pizza Club Meeting: Barraco's

Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: OMG can't decide: Burt's/Delisi's/Malnati's and Louisa's when the crust is not soggy

Favorite Stuffed Pizza: Barraco's (spinach and ricotta, yum)

Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Pat's Pizza

Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: Uncle Tucker's wood-fired pizza in Cumberland, Maryland (RIP)

Had Pizza in the Motherland? Yes. Most of the pizza I have had in the North was fairly forgettable, but I have savored every bite I have had of Vera Pizza Napolitano. I love the simple elegance of the fresh ingredients, though as oft noted on this site, the sparseness of the rare garlic clove or basil leaf leaves me feeling a bit shorted. Yet as much as I can appreciate the merits of Naples's offerings in that narrow pizza category, there is no question that I prefer the diverse pizza offerings of Chicago.

Personal Pizza Statement: Growing up in Pittsburgh, I was always aware that, while my hometown excelled at such things as football, perpetual road construction, and making the air smell like ketchup, there was a good chance other cities were better at making pizza. Sure, we knew how to put french fries and coleslaw in a sandwich, but the lackluster thin crust pizza joints that abounded left me dreaming of something bigger. When I left to start college in a small town outside Gary, Indiana called Chicago, the scales fell from my eyes. I learned that the Uno's franchise in the mall had not been representative of Chicago's famous deep dish pizza, and I learned that Chicago's pizza makers also know a thing or two about thin crust. I have had a lot of great pizza in a lot of great towns, and enjoyed many a delectable late night slice during my time in New York, but Chicago owns my pizza heart. Chicago has it all: deep dish, stuffed, thin crust, bar pizza, wood-fired pizza, coal-fired pizza, you name it. So in addition to regularly enjoying delicious slices, I am also here to help catalogue Chicago's pizza offerings as a service to our readers. In other words, I eat at Waldo Cooney's so you don't have to. Cheers!

[Meet the Members] Francisco, El Presidente



Screen Name: El Presidente

Real Name: Francisco

Came Out of the Oven: War-torn El Salvador in the sexy 70's

First Pizza Club Meeting: Vito and Nick's, founder

Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Delisi's

Favorite Stuffed Pizza: Do I have to pick?

Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Adorno's (RIP), now it would be Piece

Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: A place in Staten Island that the GD Killer took me to visit.

Had Pizza in the Motherland: Multiple times in multiple cities, including one of the oldest places in Naples. Unimpressive.

Personal Pizza Statement: For every big name place that lives up the hype, or part of it, there are many smaller places that quietly plod along making outstanding food in near anonymity. So sprang Chicago Pizza Club. Let's systematically catalog as many places as we can and develop a wide repertoire of pizzerias we can call on when the mood strikes. In addition, I like that maybe we can become a reference for people who need some real reviews of pizzerias across the city.

When Adorno's closed, I felt that long-held Chicago rite of of passage of having your favorite place close down. I proposed to continue to expand my pizza palate and never linger and remain stale like the crusty old guys to who I'm alluding. Onward and upward.

[Meet the Members] Fred



Screen Name: N/A

Real Name: Fred

Came out of the Oven: Unknown, rescued at a young age in Chicago (Lakeview)

Favorite toppings: I love every one I've tried, but some of the spicier ones don't agree with my stomach

First Pizza Club Meeting: Chain Pizza Extravaganza, March 21, 2008; ate leftovers beginning with O'Fame Italian Restaurant, October 5, 2006

Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Every one I've tried

Favorite Stuffed Pizza: Every one I've tried

Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Every one I've tried

Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: Have never tried any, but I think I'd like all of them

Had Pizza in the Motherland? No

What Do You Do When Not Eating Pizza? I sleep, I hump, I poop, and I eat. Not necessarily in that order.

Personal Pizza Statement: There is no such thing as a bad pizza. It is tied as my favorite food with: beef, chicken, fish, pork, shrimp, lamb, cheese, marshmallow fluff, pumpkin pie, cookies, yogurt, animal crackers, broccoli, ice cream, burritos, rice, grease from hamburgers, pasta, sour cream, tortilla chips, pita chips, potato chips, Trader Joe's pot stickers, Gatorade, mayonnaise, and eggs.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

[Pizza Fun] How to Reheat a Pizza

This post comes to us from our member Kelly. You can link back to the original article at CooksIllustrated.com by clicking here, though registration will be required. Otherwise, just read on below!

Why Is Reheated Pizza Crispier When Reheated on Parchment Paper?
Before answering questions about the relative merits of foil and parchment, we wanted to test different techniques for reheating pizza. We started by testing three methods: heating pizza on a preheated baking stone, on a baking sheet, and directly on the oven rack with a baking sheet underneath to catch drips. Although we expected the last method to deliver a crisp crust, it didn't; the crust was soft and this method was quite messy. The baking sheet did a good job, but the crust was even more crisp when slices were warmed on a hot baking stone.

Could we adjust our baking sheet method to yield better results? Brushing the crust with oil before reheating just made it tough. Lining the pan with foil made the crust less crisp, but, as you found, parchment paper made the crust more crisp. In fact, when reheated on a parchment-lined baking sheet, the pizza was just as crisp as that heated on a preheated baking stone.

Why does parchment, and not foil, promote crispness? Absorbent parchment paper likely wicks away any moisture on the crust that might otherwise cause sogginess; with foil, the moisture has nowhere to go. Our recommendation is to reheat pizza in a 400-degree oven for six minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Friday, April 18, 2008

[Meet the Members] Stelio



Screen Name: smantis

Real Name: Stelio

Came out of the Oven: During the Golden Age of the Ford administration

Favorite toppings: Carmelized onions and sasusage

First Pizza Club Meeting: Gulliver's Pizza with me, Francisco and Dave

Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Gino's East

Favorite Stuffed Pizza: Albano's calzone

Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Pizza D.O.C.

Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: Nothing to write home about

Had Pizza in the Motherland? In Rome in 2003, though it tasted like a saltine cracker with marinara sauce.

Personal Pizza Statement: The three things I love in this world: baseball, girls and Pizza Club (not in that order).

[Chicago Pizza News] Uno's Named Healthiest Chain Restaurant

Health Magazine has named Uno's Chicago Grill (the national version of our local institution) the healthiest chain restaurant in the United States. Sadly, this is not because deep dish pizza is a treat for dieters, but because of other offerings on the menu. But if you're not counting calories and happen to be in a mall somewhere with someone who is, Uno's can be a good compromise. There are currently over 200 Uno's spread across 29 states.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

[Meet the Members] Andrew



Screen Name: Andrew, Stu

Real Name: Andrew

Came out of the Oven: Lake Zurich, IL

Favorite toppings: Bacon and non-mozzerella cheeses

First Pizza Club Meeting: Pequod's (it was quite a while ago...)

Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Burt's Place

Favorite Stuffed Pizza: Barcello's

Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Vito and Nick's

Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: I do enjoy New York style slices when I'm in the Big Apple

Had Pizza in the Motherland? I haven't, but I love the Naples style pizza I've had in Chicago

What Do You Do When Not Eating Pizza? I get paid for my Graphic Design skills (see the lovely Chicago Pizza Club logo and mascot... and hell, this website for that matter), when not at work or pursuing Pizza-related quests I like to be drinking, watching movies, reading funny-books and not-so-funny-books, as well as going to baseball games and cursing the inevitable onslaught of Chicago winters.

Personal Pizza Statement: The Chicago Pizza Club has opened my young eyes up to such a wide variety of pizza. I tend not to have a preference for any specific style of pizza, as long as it is well made it doesn't matter to me if it is naples style, a calzone, stuffed, thin crust or pan pizza, pizza puff or even a pizza pot pie. As of right now I'm anxiously looking forward to a Chicago Pizza Club return to Burt's Pizza, which has been, hands down, my favorite Chicago Pizza Club experience thus far.

[Meet the Members] Marla Collins' Husband



Screen Name: Marla Collins Husband

Real Name: Daniel Zemans

Came out of the Oven: Chicago (Hyde Park)

Favorite toppings: Sausage and mushrooms

First Pizza Club Meeting: O'Fame Italian Restaurant, October 5, 2006

Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Lou Malnati's

Favorite Stuffed Pizza: Bacino's

Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Pat's Pizza

Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix

Had Pizza in the Motherland? Yes, in Rome, and at the time I thought it was a dry cracker with too little cheese, too little sauce, and too few toppings. My pizza palate has developed significantly since then; I think a return to Italy is in order.

What Do You Do When Not Eating Pizza? When the Cubs season is over, I just dream about pizza and stare lovingly into the eyes of my favorite pizza club member, Fred.

Personal Pizza Statement: Growing up in Hyde Park, I was aware of three pizzerias: Giordano's, Edwardo's and Medici. In my mind, the stuffed pizza at Giordano's and Edwardo's was the definition of Chicago-style pizza. They both served (and still serve) thin crust pizza, but I don't think I've ever had it. Medici serves a pan pizza and a thin crust (again, never tried it). I was not a big fan of Medici. I did like going there once a year to make my own pizza, something I got to do because the owner's daughter was in my elementary school class, but compared to stuffed pies, the pan pizzas had no chance. I had heard of Lou Malnatti's because they used to advertise on the back of Bulls tickets in the early 80s, but I don't ever remember having pizza in Chicago outside of Hyde Park. I do remember when I was eleven and visiting relatives in southern California who insisted on taking us to their favorite pizza place in LA. I was served a large pile of ass, beginning my realization that the best pizza on the planet was in my hometown.

I didn't try a more traditional deep dish pizza until a friend visited Chicago during college and wanted to try Gino's East. I thought it was good (especially the amount of sausage), but found it didn't have enough cheese. After college in Minnesota where the only pizza I had was a local late night delivery place, and a year in St. Louis, home of provel cheese pizza, I returned to Chicago and worked two blocks from a Lou Malnatti's. I ventured over there one day for lunch and my pizza worldview was changed forever. I still like stuffed pizza, but Lou Malnatti's is the pie I crave the most.

After foolishly leaving Chicago to spend three years in New York, I was forced to start eating thin crust pizza. New York has plenty of good pizza and whole lot of bad pizza. That said, the city did open my eyes to the possibility that thin crust pizza could be a satisfying meal, but I was content limiting my pizza intake to deep dish and stuffed.

Today, my pizza appreciation seems to know no bounds. Stuffed, deep dish, pan, thin crust, cracker crust, Sicilian, Grandma's, Neapolitan, coal-oven...they're all good. In addition to my time at CPC, I also write pizza reviews at Slice, the most popular and most thorough (if a little New York centric) pizza website around.

[Chicago Pizza News] Madison, WI pizza chain is coming to Chicago

Chicagoist.com is reporting that Madison, WI based pizza chain, Ian’s Pizza, will be opening up a new location in Chicago on or around June 1st. It looks like Ian's is a New York style pizza place with emphasis on new and unusual pizza offerings, as evidenced by their menu. Ian's will be located at 3463 N. Clark, just a little bit south of Wrigley Field. For the full Chicagoist.com article, just click here!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pat's Pizza [Meeting #56]

Pat's Pizza
2679 N. Lincoln Ave. (GoogleMaps)
773-248-0168

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


Taco Pizza!



Artichoke and Goat Cheese


Quatoro Formagi


The Pesto Pizza


The Chicago Pizza Club in action


Where it went down...


Pat's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon