Pizzeria Due (part of Uno Chicago Grill) [GoogleMaps]
619 N. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
CPC invaded Pizzeria Due on 7/28/09.
Review submitted by Marla Collins' Husband
Given that Pizzeria Uno is the place that put Chicago on the global pizza map, the Chicago Pizza Club had to try it out in order to maintain our street cred. The obvious problem to meeting there is the same one that has rendered the original Uno's a destination dominated by tourists: the waits are ridiculous.
Twelve years after Pizzeria Uno opened in 1955, the owners opened a second location to satisfy their growing legion of fans. Uno's was actually originally called The Pizzeria, but when the second place opened a block away, they renamed the original Pizzeria Uno and the new place, Pizzeria Due. Much of the staff at Due's, including pizza legend Rudy Malnati, came from Uno's, and the two have been linked ever since. Still, because Uno's has the name, it is significantly more popular. Due's is also very popular, but tends to have shorter wait times than Uno's, so that's where the CPC went to examine the origins of deep dish pizza.
It is worth noting that Due's does take reservations Mondays through Thursdays, but they refuse to say how many. I was told that it varies depending how busy they are. I asked how they know how busy they're going to be weeks in advance of a particular night and was told that it's based on how many reservations they have. That response, of course, led me back to the question of how many reservations they accept, which the person I spoke with again refused to divulge. My hunch is that they only take a reservation or two per night from the public and that the rest come through hotel concierges with whom the restaurant has a relationship.
Anyhow, thanks to the generosity of Adam, the newest CPC member, who got there at 5:30 to place our order, the rest of us didn't have to wait too long after our 6:30 meeting time to be seated. We were at our table at 6:45 and were eating pizza less than 10 minutes later. How is it possible to get a pizza that takes 45 minutes to cook after just 10 minutes at the table? Easy: They require you to place your order when you put your name down to get a table. They then cook your pizzas most of the way, take them out of the oven, and then put them back in when you sit down.
They serve nothing but deep dish at Pizzeria Due and the 12 CPCers who showed up split three large pies. It is worth noting that the menu at Due's (and Uno's for that matter) is different from the menu on the Uno's website. Uno's Chicago Grill, which has over 200 locations spread across 31 states and DC, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, has a very different menu from the original two pizzerias. At Uno's and Due's, pizza eaters can either build their pies or choose from six "Specialty Pizzas."
Because we are special people, we got three specialty pizzas. Up first was the Numero Uno, which has a whole lot of sausage along with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions and green pepper, along with extra mozzarella cheese and a chunky, tangy sweet sauce. I really liked this pizza and it seemed to go over well with the group. The sausage had really good amount of fat and chewiness, though no noticeable fennel. The pepperoni was a step above your typical Hormel-quality pepperoni that ruins pizzas all over the country. The crust, which was the same on all three pies, is really thick and really had an almost nutty taste to it. It looked like and kind of tasted like a wheat or whole grain crust, though the restaurant would surely advertise it if that was the case. It's been over a year since I had Uno's, but I remember the crust being a yellowish color there and having a corn mealish taste to it. I didn't love the crust, but I thought it was good enough. And the thickness allowed it to stand up to the varied and plentiful toppings on all three pies.
The second pizza was the BBQ Chicken pizza. Personally, I have never had a chicken pizza that I liked and I'm always surprised when restaurants sell it. But I know that barbecue chicken pizza put California Pizza Kitchen on the map, so clearly there are plenty who disagree with me. The pizza featured a blend of cheeses (mozzarella, Romano, and cheddar) and an inconsistent application of a citrus barbecue sauce. One CPC member liked the chicken pizza enough to eat two whole slices, but the rest of our reactions ranged from tolerating to revulsion.
The third pizza was the Spinoccoli, which features spinach and broccoli along with a the same three cheese from the chicken pizza and garlic and tomato sauce. I also really enjoyed this pizza, though I would have preferred a less grain-flavored crust with it. The menu lists the broccoli as fresh, but does not use the same adjective to describe the spinach. I'm not sure whether the spinach was fresh or not, but it definitely seemed like it was previously frozen and that is inexcusable. Despite the weak spinach, I enjoyed the Spinoccoli almost as much as the Numero Uno.
At the end of the day, Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due are worth checking out at least once, but there are multiple pizzerias within a mile or two (Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, Pizano's, a lot of thin crust places) that are both better and do not require as long of a wait.
Petey Pizza gives Due's a 6.84.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Pizzeria Due (part of Uno Chicago Grill) [GoogleMaps]