Screen Name: Erik
Real Name: White Chocolate
Came out of the Oven: October 10, 1980
Favorite toppings: Sausage, Green Peppers, Anchovies
First Pizza Club Meeting: Early 2008
Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Moretti's
Favorite Stuffed Pizza: n/a
Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Santullo's
Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: Garcia's - Champaign/Urbana
Had Pizza in the Motherland? Not even sure I've had pizza outside of Illinois ...
What Do You Do When Not Eating Pizza? By day I'm a mild mannered engineer. By night I'm a mild mannered engineer who plays too many video games.
Personal Pizza Statement: I think Papa John's is pretty tasty, so, like Roger Ebert, I'm a pretty easy critic
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:
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
2417 N. Clark Map
The Chicago Pizza Club invaded My Pie on 5/20/08.
All of the Pizza Clubbers in attendance tonight have walked by My Pie numerous times, but none of us had ever been there (at least not to this location - a couple had been to the much smaller place in Bucktown). The first thing we all noticed was how much bigger the restaurant is than we expected. From the outside, it seems like it would be primarily a take-out place with a few tables. But it's actually a nice, large restaurant with brick walls and heavy wood tables.
My Pie is a family-owned chain that has opened 23 locations in 9 states. They claim to be the first Chicago deep dish pizzeria to open outside of Illinois. It's unclear how many My Pies currently exist since the claim about other locations is in the past tense, but the only two mentioned on the website are both in Chicago. I shall try to solve this pizza mystery someday.
We ordered four pizzas: a deep dish sausage and mushroom; a deep dish pepperoni, onion and garlic; a thin crust roast beef; and a stuffed spinach soufflé. My Pie says that is makes its dough daily and that it uses different dough for the three different styles of pie. In fact, they say they use different cheese, spices, sausage and tomatoes for each of the three types. After about a 40 minute wait, our pies were all delivered to the table.
The thin crust with roast beef had no characteristics that really stood out. The crust drooped when one held up a piece, but there was some debate whether that was because of a flaw in the crust or because of the weight of the beef. There was definitely not a shortage of roast beef on the pizza, but the amount of cheese made it less than easy to taste the roast beef. Indeed another possibility for the lack of sturdiness in the crust may be that the oil that came out of the cheese during cooking softened it up. One thing to note about the crust is that it is thicker than a typical Chicago thin crust like the one at Pat's or Vito & Nicks.
The deep dish pizzas were noticeably different from typical deep dish pizzas in that their crust was not particularly thick. In fact, it seemed no thicker than the crust on the thin pizza. The crust seemed to have a garlic flavor to it and it definitely had a lot of butter, so it wasn't entirely unique for Chicago deep dish, but the crust/cheese breakdown was different. A couple of notes on the toppings: the sausage had a higher fat content than most sausage. Also, while My Pie is generous with the toppings, the chefs are not particularly careful about even distribution. On one slice of my pepperoni, onion and garlic pie, I counted six pieces of pepperoni on top of one another and I had a couple of bites with no pepperoni at all.
The stuffed spinach soufflé was definitely the most unique pizza of the night. Like a traditional stuffed pizza, the cheese and toppings sit between two layers of crust. But while the top layer of crust is normally paper thin, here it was about as thick as the bottom layer. Furthermore, while traditional stuffed pizza has only sauce on top of the top layer of crust, this one seemed to have a little more cheese on top of the crust and under the sauce. It's hard to say what the cause is, but the result is that the stuffed pizza at My Pie does not feel nearly as heavy as a traditional stuffed pizza.
Finally, a word about the sauce. This may have been the chunkiest sauce that I've ever had and there was not even a hint of acidity to it. I could not tell a difference between the sauces on the different pizza, but one reason for the lack of acidity could be, as My Pie claims, that their tomatoes are vine-ripened and only single-cooked, while most canned tomatoes are double or triple-cooked.
For those who are planning on driving, My Pie is on a busy street in a busy neighborhood - parking is sparse. My Pie offers discounted parking just two blocks north at Children's Memorial Hospital for $3.
Petey Pizza Gives My Pie a 6.2/10.
Serving up some deep dish...
The Roast Beef thin crust pizza...
Limp crust makes El Presidente sad...
The Spinache Soufflé
Who knew it was so big?
Where it went down...
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Here's an excerpt:
"The modern pizza industry was born in the Midwest, not coincidentally a place of sparse Italian settlement. Although pizza had pushed into the suburbs as second-generation Italians relocated, most of the heartland was pizza-free. Its inhabitants had neither allegiance nor aversion to the traditional pie. The region also boasted an enviable supply of cheese.
Sewell’s lightly seasoned deep-dish pie, introduced in 1943, the signature item at Pizzeria Uno, was the first true American pizza. The pie was a uniquely Chicago institution, like a perennially losing major-league baseball team, that other cities showed no interest in adopting. Until Uno’s opened its first location outside Chicago in 1979, people had to go to East Ohio Street to sample anything like Sewell’s idea of a pie. But its success liberated pizzeria owners nationwide to tinker with their product, ultimately paving the way for the megafranchises."
I take issue with the reference to losing baseball teams, backhanded compliments and inaccurate top ten list but they've managed to collect at least some useful information.
Read more at American Heritage
Friday, May 16, 2008
Vito & Nick's II is owned by Nicholas Barraco II, son of Nicholas Baccaro, who is the Nick in Vito & Nick's, the southside institution at 84th and Pulaski that is home to many Pizza Clubbers favorite thin crust pie. Vito is Nick II's grandfather.
Initially, I assumed that the two were part of the same company and that Vito and Nick's II, which has multiple locations, was just an extension of the original. When I came across this article announcing the opening of another V & N II location, I did some investigating. While Vito and Nick's II emphasizes its ties to the original Vito & Nick's , the original states in block letters on its website, NOT AFFILIATED OR ASSOCIATED WITH VITO AND NICKS II IN MOKENA IL OR ANY LICENSEE OR FRANCHISEE. It seems likely that some family squabble got overblown and that there is some bad blood.
In any event, V & N II seems to be looking to become the Uno's of the thin crust world - the pizza that is the definition of Chicago style in the minds of the rest of the country. Not only does V & N II have six locations in the Chicago suburbs, it also has a location in Gilbert, AZ and is opening one soon in Coral Gables, FL. They also ship frozen pizzas and they are looking for people interested in franchise opportunities.
Perhaps the CPC should invest. But first, we should definitely plan a trip out there to see if the son is as talented as the father.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
So, Papa Johns is in the news this week for hitting over $1 Billion in online pizza sales. You can read about it over here.
Papas Johns was always my prefered chain pizza while I was in college down in Champaign/Urbana, but they don't seem to be too widespread up here in the city. I actually researched the possibility of getting some delivered for the Chicago Pizza Club's Chain Pizza Extravaganza, but there were none in my delivery area.
Anywho, I love ordering food online with the interwebs, I think it cuts down on mistakes with your orders, people writing down the wrong addresses, etc., and while Domino's and Pizza Hut both offer online ordering, I much, much prefer to use websites that offer the option of ordering local, non-chain pizzas right to my doorstep. Both Foodler.com and GrubHub.com let you enter in your address, see what local restaurants deliver to you, browse menus online and let you place your order through their websites. Also handy is how they have their menus broken down into handy categories such as; Pasta, Mexican, Sushi, Chinese, etc... oh, and of course, Pizza! And while I haven't used this site yet, it looks like Delivery.com also offers similar services to the Chicago area.
So, if you're lazy like me and are hungry for pizza rejoice in knowing that your online ordering needs (oh yeah, it's a need) can be met by more than just the big pizza chains.
Friday, May 09, 2008
This post from abroad came to me this morning from our member Mark, currently vacationing and avoiding kidnappers in Brazil...
Hey, I am in Sao Paulo Brazil, and decided to have a pizza club meeting for one. I took a few pictures, though I do not have any of the restaurant. I have a few minutes so here is a review written off the cuff:
The food in brazil has presented me with numerous new flavors and combinations of old flavors I would not have thought appropriate prior to the trip. As the trip winds down, I decided to see what the Brazillian take on pizza was like. I am currently staying in a Jewish neighborhood in Sao Paulo with a friend. This is not a neighborhood where tourists are seen, so I believe that this sample of one is fairly representative of a normal Brazilian pizza. The pizza place chosen was one 2 blocks away that seemed to be doin a fair amount of business. Los Mano Pizzas located at 1333 rua Dr. Albuquerque Lins, Higienopolis. Ph # 3662-0000, and yes, they do deliver. The menu presented several options that appeared very strange, including a banana pizza, and pizza with the cheese replaced by a mousse squeezed out of a pastry bag. The sauce appears to be a basic, I think, marinara, which is spread very sparingly on a very neutral pizza dough. The topping of choice is placed on top of slices of buffalo mozzerella the outside of the crust is then sprinkled with sesame seeds, and the pie placed in a wood fired oven for 8-10 minutes.
The word to describe the pizza best is neutral, the crust had no real distinctive flavor other than the presence of the sesame seeds which I must admit did not suit my taste. The sauce was minimal and fairly sweet. The cheese was of an excellent quality despite its placement in sliced form. The toppings were of a high quality, however I must admit when I received the pizza I was a little shocked. As this is an establishment where people always speak Portugese there was obviously no menu in English. I, having spent the last 9 days mastering the language, assumed I would be fine. What I ended up with was a pizza with the finest olives on it I have ever tasted, and a whole pile of tuna. The tuna was of higher quality (possibly from one of those vacuum packets rather than the can) and the oil and seasonings actually made the pizza much more tolerable than I expected, but I really dont like tuna.
The pizza was quickly produced and the staff were very interested to talk with a gringo such as myself, even if I only speak a little spanoish. They were totally unaware of the existence of stuffed crust, and I wrote down the address of the pizza club so they can get their minds blown at what the technologically mighty U.S. can produce.
As I ended up with a pizza with toppings that confused the review I do not feel that a rating is appropriate, however I do feel that this remains an excellent lesson in eating while in a foreign land; that you frequently end up with a food that you would never eat. Sometimes this ends up exposing you to flavors you have never tasted before, and sometimes you get a pizza with tuna on top of it.
I wonder if they deliver to Chicago?
Look at that! Sesame seeds!!
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
2nd Annual Pizza Fest Chicago
Racine & Fullerton, Chicago (Google Maps)
If there two things we can say about the members of the Chicago Pizza Club it's that they love Pizza and they love Festivals. So news of the 2nd Annual Pizza Fest Chicago will know doubt resound in the ears of our readers and contributors as nothing less than spectacular news.
The Fest this year takes place on June 21 & 22, from noon to 10pm both days.
Further details (and there are many further details to behold) can be found here!
Chicago Pizza Club members let's all do our best to attend and cover this glorious event in detail!
Monday, May 05, 2008
742 S. 4th Street, St. Louis, MO (GoogleMaps)
Stu and I had a lovely day yesterday, making the trek from Chicago to St. Louis to watch the Cubs spank the Cardinals 9-3. As there are some White Sox fans in the CPC, I will respectfully decline to elaborate on the game. But I will write about my return to Imo's Pizza for the first time since I lived in St. Louis in 1998-99.
Imo's, which has been around since 1964, is the most prominent St. Louis pizzeria. It's pies have a cracker-thin crisp crust, a tangy sauce, and provel cheese. What is provel cheese, you ask? It's a cheese that was developed in St. Louis more than fifty years ago and, despite massive globalization in the food industry, is still pretty much only available in St. Louis.
A food reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did some research into Provel's origins:
It was originally developed to meet perceived demand for a pizza cheese with a "clean bite"—one that melts well but still breaks off nicely when you bite into it. Neither gentleman had a definitive answer for where the name comes from, although one popular theory is that it's a combination of the words provolone and mozzarella, two of the cheeses for which it is substituted.What the local reporter left out is that provel is actually processed cheese a la American cheese or those lovely Laughing Cow cheese disks. Like other processed cheeses, provel has a wax-like quality that both retains heat and gives it a very chewy texture.
The original Imo's is no more, so Stu and I opted for convenience and went to the location closest to Busch Stadium. We picked up our sausage pie and headed over to the Arch to enjoy St. Louis' pizza under St. Louis' classic monument.
While I understand why provel has not caught on nationally, I enjoyed the pizza. We had to walk about 3/4 of a mile from Imo's to the Arch, but the pizza was still warm and the crust still had it's cracker-like crispness. The sausage was nothing special, but there was a decent amout of it on the pizza.
Imo's was a nice trip down memory lane for me and I'm glad I went. That said, if I don't eat it for another ten years, I'll be just fine.
A couple of Chicago-related notes. First, Hoffman's, the Milwaukee cheese manufacturer that developed provel with a St. Louis grocery store, is now owned by Northbrook-based Kraft Foods. Second, Feed the Beast, a bar and restaurant in Chicago, is owned by a St. Louis native and serves St. Louis style pizza, complete with provel cheese. Perhaps the CPC will visit someday.
Award Winning St. Louis Pizza... at least until 1999...
I wonder what's inside?
Oh yeah... Pizza!
Dan enjoys a square under the Arch...
Where it went down...
2207 N. Clybourn (GoogleMaps)
CPC invaded Pequod's for the second time on 4/27/08.
Da club came together on a mild spring day to take a bite out of Pequod’s signature caramelized crust pan pizza in Lincoln Park. This was one of our largest meetings to date, with a group of about fifteen folks including regulars, new members, out-of-town visitors, and a couple of tykes.
Pequod’s, named for Captain Ahab’s whaling ship in Melville’s Moby Dick, is one of several establishments started by the legendary Burt Katz. These days, Burt spends his time making pizzas at the appropriately named Burt’s Place in Morton Grove, but his signature pizza can be found at various other establishments he owned at different points in the past going back to the 1960's, including Pequod’s and Gulliver’s. Don’t expect to see Burt at any of his former haunts, though. When TimeOut Chicago asked Burt for his thoughts on his former pizza places, he replied, “When you sell your car, do you check on it every six months? Nope.” Nevertheless, the CPC has visited Burt’s Place in the past, and there is no mistaking his lingering influence on Pequod’s.
The restaurant itself is a long, rectangular room with a bar along the left side. We had to string four or five square tables together to accommodate our large group. It is a casual spot with dim lighting, where you can hang out with family and friends or just stop in for beer and pizza while you watch a sports game. The image of the whale is prominent throughout, as you can see in the photos below.
At Pequod’s, you can expect charred outer crusts, a nice tangy sauce, and abundant fresh toppings. The crust itself is thick and more bread-like than the typical pan pizza. It is soft other than the charred outer edges. The cheese is good enough, but it comes in a pretty thin layer and it’s not terribly remarkable until it joins the caramelized goodness of the charred crust. The sauce is delicious and probably one of the best around town in my opinion. It is sweet, tangy, and altogether the flavors are very well-balanced. Because of the thickness of the bready crust, El Presidente and I often request extra sauce and/or cheese when we order Pequod’s for delivery.
We enjoyed the following pizzas at our meeting:
- Pan Pizza with Sausage and Pepperoni - the sausage comes in big, flavorful chunks and the pepperoni is appropriately spicy.
- Pan Pizza with Pepperoni, Onion, and Garlic - this is a great combination. some spicy pepperoni, the crunch of the onion, and the garlic is probably my favorite topping here because it goes so well with the sauce.
- Pan Pizza with Garlic and Basil - perhaps because of the daintiness of the ingredients, this pie didn't seem to get as much sauce as the others, so it was a lot of bread, but still tasty.
- Pan Pizza with Spinach and Mushroom - the combination of these two waterlogged vegetables resulted in a wet mess, but the ingredients themselves were good.
- Pan Pizza with Mushroom and Garlic - fresh, perfectly cooked mushrooms and garlic. a good combination when not partaking in the meat options.
- Thin Crust with Canadian Bacon and Pineapple - the pineapple was cut into rings, so it didn't appear on every slice, but the juices still added the flavor throughout. the Canadian bacon was cut into small, thin slices. generous amounts of cheese. this pizza was okay, and we tried it to get a feel for the thin crust, but I wouldn't order it again. go for the pan pizza.
kate-d. gives Pequod's an 8.2
The CPC gives Pequod's 8.15/10.
Serving up some deep dish...
Thin crust Pineapple and Ham
The crowd-pleasing Pepperoni, Onion & Garlic
The famous Carmelized Crust
What do you mean there's no more pizza?
El Presidente has a whale of a good time...
Where it went down...
Friday, May 02, 2008
Screen Name: Ryan
Real Name: Ryan
Came out of the Oven: Wheaton IL
Favorite toppings: Pepperoni/sausage, onion, garlic
First Pizza Club Meeting: Sorry. That memory slipped out of my left ear a couple years ago when I fell asleep on the El. If you seen it at a local pawn shop let me know. My iPod is missing too. Thanks.
Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Pequod's.
Favorite Stuffed Pizza: Still looking. I told myself I'd never do it but I'm one spinach ricotta mistake away from posting myself on StuffedPizzaMatch.com.
Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Caffe Florian.
Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: Sam's Pizza - Iowa City IA
Had Pizza in the Motherland? I've had pizza on the mothership, man. It tasted like laser beams.
What Do You Do When Not Eating Pizza? After a lifetime in the Chicagoland area I recently moved to complete a Radiology residency in Miami; where they don't understand pizza, my beer gut, or my primary language. So I've been busy practicing my espanol, sitting in the dark, and sitting in the sun. I've also been eagerly waiting the release of my wife, Kelly, who is currently serving a sentence at Northwestern graduate school. If I'm not buried under a pile of requisitions in the Jackson ER you can find me on a kite board off the coast of Key Biscayne. Look for my reviews during my frequent returns to Chicago.
Personal Pizza Statement: There's no list of absolute criteria for a pizza to receive a good score from me. It just has to inspire me to use an expletive before an adjective. However, if you're looking for some Hot and Cold inspired insight into my spot-on pizza ratings, here it is:
Warmer - tangy sauce, crispy crust, innumerable toppings (amount not types), squares on thin, triangles on thick, garlic
Colder - limp crust, play-doh cheese, end in -tarian, confusable with a 3-colored block of ice cream, cotton-mouth crust, heat lamps, folded like a taco
And a word about 'Specials'...Don't cheapen the term. If sausage and green peppers are coming to mind think a little longer.
Screen Name: Amanda
Real Name: Amanda
Came out of the Oven: Riverdale, Georgia
Favorite toppings: goat cheese, sausage, peppers
First Pizza Club Meeting: April 16, 2008 (Pat's Pizza)
Favorite Deep Dish Pizza: Ranalli's
Favorite Stuffed Pizza: I don't know that I've had stuffed pizza yet!
Favorite Thin Crust Pizza: Coalfire
Favorite Pizza outside of Chicago: There's pizza outside of Chicago?
Had Pizza in the Motherland? Yes, but it was an underwhelming square of lukewarm cheese on forgetful bread. I'll make a better effort to get the real deal if I ever return.
What Do You Do When Not Eating Pizza? My non-pizza interests include; Puzzle Fighting, Wii Bowling, "The Law," Booty Dancing, Harold, Kumar, Cross-Stitching (Christmas Stockings Only), Lunch, A Good Hot Breakfast, Being a Non-Threatening Bad-Ass, Barbecue Nachos, Cheese Grits, and Being Alabama's Southern Bride of the Year 2009!
Personal Pizza Statement: I enjoy simple pleasures, and pizza is one of them. Give me a nice crust with a little tomato sauce and cheese, and I'm a happy girl. Everything is else is just details.