Pursuit of the Perfect Pizza: Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder
When you hear Chicago what comes to mind? Da Bears? The Bean in Millennium Park? The terribly long line that forms at Garrett's Popcorn? Maybe it's the World Series Champions, the Chicago Cubbies.
When I think about Chicago, a true icon comes to mind: pizza and not just deep dish. Go ahead and laugh but pizza is a Chicago institution. I guarantee if you ask any Chicagoan about their favorite pie, they most certainly have one and ten reasons why it's superior to yours.
Over the last ten years, I have been traveling to Chicago and have had the good fortune to try out several of the famous pizza joints.
- Lou Malinati's
- Pizano's Pizza and Pasta
- Gino's East (Nashville, get excited because we are lucky to have one of these opening soon! Click here for details)
- Pizzeria Due
On my last trip to the Windy City, I added a new one to the list: Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company. I spotted this cheesy goodness on Instagram and knew that a stop was in order. So, we ordered an Uber and off we went. Based on my experience, I wanted to give you a few tips below.
Wait: Unless you are one of the first people in line when the doors open, you will inevitably have to wait. The Nowait app won't be able to get you out of this one. We arrived shortly after 1:00 pm thinking that we would beat the lunch rush, but that wasn't the case. They took our name and told us it would be about an hour wait. I thought to myself, no big deal. I'll just grab a seat at the bar, grab and beer and order an appetizer. WRONG. The bar was full and they don't serve food. Fail! Let's just say that hour grew exponentially and I was starving. Luckily, there was a bar at the end of the street, so we were able to pop in and have a cocktail to kill some time.
Cash Only: This restaurant is cash only, which is a form of payment drowning in a world of plastic cards and Apple pay. If you don't happen to have any cash on you (you're not alone), the owners have so graciously positioned an ATM as soon as you enter the establishment. Just close your eyes when you see the ATM fee.
Pre-game: You see the pizza pies and think to yourself you need to bank as many calories and as possible. Trust me, I thought the same thing, However, I was STARVING after the long wait. Do yourself a favor and have a hearty breakfast (at least something more than coffee) before you make the trip. Otherwise, you will want to gnaw on your arm.
Now that I have armed you with an arsenal of tips, let's talk about this pizza pot pie. Some of you may be scratching your head wondering what the heck is a pizza pot pie. " The pizza pot pie is an individual serving, "made from scratch" with triple-raised Sicilian bread-type dough; a homemade sauce consisting of olive oil, fresh garlic, onions, green peppers, whole plum tomatoes and a special blend of cheeses; sausage made from prime Boston butts ; and doorknob-size, whole, fresh mushrooms." Is your mouthwatering yet? Mine is!
Picture this: four women surviving on caffeine and beer alone. The hanger set in. When I tell you our server couldn't come fast enough, I couldn't be more serious. We were at the point of ordering from anyone who looked like they could get us food from the kitchen. After five to ten minutes of pestering the kitchen staff, our server made his way to our table at which time we immediately ordered. To curb the hanger pains, we started with the Mediterranean Bread. As you can see from the photo, there's not much to this dish. Resembling a thin pizza crust, the bread is brushed with olive oil and topped with various Italian spices. Perhaps it was the hanger pains, but it certainly hit the spot.
Thirty minutes later our pizza pot pies were delivered to the table. Believe me, I was beginning to question the entire experience at this point. I've certainly waited my fair share for food, but this was pushing it. Just as those thoughts entered my brain, the pizza pot pie aroma hit my nose and the cheesy goodness was presented. If you're anything like me (aka total cheese head) you can't help but drool! The picture below is rather underwhelming, right? It looks like four large bread rolls. But wait for it!
The server flipped the bread over and underneath was a bowl that housed all of the "meat" of the pie. The server removed the bowl and placed my pie in front of me. Without hesitation, I dug right in. I realize this isn't the greatest photo but let's just take a second and look at that cheese. DROOL!
You may be thinking "didn't you just say you were starving? This looks a little small." Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company offer two sizes for their pizza pot pies: the Half-Pounder and the One-Pounder. Featured above is the half-pounder and rest assured that is plenty for one person.
For someone who loves Chicago pizza, I found this to be an experience like no other. Each bite was more about the meat and cheese and I found it somewhat difficult to incorporate the crust. Personally, I like a nice balance of all three.
✔️. I am able to say that I experienced yet another style of Chicago pizza. Even though I like the presentation and the pizza pot pie concept, this is not the Chicago pizza style for me. The cheesiness made all of my dreams come true, but I think I will stick with the classics.
Until Next Time!
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company
2121 North Clark Street
Chicago, Illinois 60614
Tariff: $12.75-$25.50/Pizza Pot Pie; $5.00/ Beer $13.75/Over Grinder Sandwiches
Can't Miss: Pizza Pot Pie
Potential Pass: Mediterranean Bread