Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.

2121 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 248-2570



Chicago, Illinois is considered by many to be the New York City of the Midwest.  And while there are many similarities, there are several differences that make each city unique.  One of those differences is the style of pizza.  I think unless you live on Mars or a farm in Wyoming or something, you know that Chicago has the deep-dish style pizza and New York has the thin crust.  As a native New Englander, I always prefer thin crust, but like they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

I’ve been to Chicago several times and been to many of their famous deep dish pizza joints, such as the original Pizzeria Uno.  But this last trip I took, my friends brought me to an even more unorthodox pizza venue.  As locals, they say it’s one of the best pizza places in the city.  Now, I’ll say this right off the bat – it’s a good pizza place that WILL NOT satisfy a pizza craving.

Sounds weird right?  I’ll say it again – if you’re really craving a thin slice, or personal pan deep dish, this is not the place to go.  However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. if you’re looking for a good meal.

Located non-descriptly in a block of row houses, the venue is small and doesn’t take reservations, so expect to wait.  While we waited, we split a bottle of wine out on the sidewalk, which may or may not have been legal, but it seemed to be an acceptable practice among the several others waiting.

The interior has a cool, woody, cabin feel – very much like a family summer home you might have.  The atmosphere is lively and loud, as they’ve packed as many people as they can into what is essentially an english basement.  The menu itself is simple, with their signature dish, “The Pizza Pot Pie” highlighting the options and to be honest, I don’t think many people order anything else.  You can order a half-pound or one pound “Pizza Pot Pie”.  This isn’t a deep dish.  You have to use a knife and fork.  And like the name of it says, it literally is like a pot pie made of all pizza ingredients.  If you’re hungry, a half-pound is a perfect size (I was starving and wasn’t able to finish it).

The pot pie was very good.  The ingredients inside as a mix gave it sort of a cheesey, meaty calzone consistency that made me think “this is like the ultimate poor man’s comfort food”.  You can’t help but feel very blue collar as you spoon forkful after forkful of cheese, meat, thick tomato sauce and dough into your mouth.  I could see how this place would be the spot to be in the cold winter months.  I would say that only thing I had against it was that it was too doughy for my taste and I could feel myself bloating up with each carbo-loaded bite.

I’d also recommend getting one of their salads and the surprisingly, really good Mediterranean bread.  I really like Olive Garden salads and this salad and dressing takes the Olive Garden salad to the next level (it actually blows it away).  The flatbread comes out on a plate that’s too small for it and the edges flop down on the table.  You have to tear pieces of it off like you’re at an Ethiopian restaurant.  Be sure to dip the bread in the salad dressing and make sure not to fill yourself up too much.

The simplicity of the restaurant was great – no nonsense, small menu, homestyle fare.  I throughly enjoyed the meal, but I’ll say that I probably wouldn’t find myself going their regularly ONLY because I’m not the type that would “crave” that style of pizza that often.  That being said, it was a fun place with a unique twist on a crowd pleasing food and the pot pie was delicious enough to make you forget you had any sort of thin crust or deep dish craving beforehand.    Grade: B

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Opening Weekend at Wrigley Field

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Nothing makes me feel like spring is here more than getting to a baseball game.  In D.C., National Park is comfortable, clean, with great food and an overall “nice” place to watch a game.  Same goes for PNC in Pittsburgh, and Camden in Baltimore.  But what these new stadiums lack is a history and character.  As a long time Red Sox fan, I’ve been to Fenway Park numerous times and love the old-school look and feel of Sox games during the summer and I’m almost snobby about how it’s a far superior baseball watching experience than in any other ballpark.

The one place I always thought that could be the exception is Wrigley Field in Chicago.  Much like how the Red Sox fans used to be, the poor Cubs fans have had a long history of losing heartbreaking games and a championship drought going back to 1908.  So when I was sent to Chicago for work, I made it a goal to get to a Cubs game while I was there.

Wrigley is located right in the heart of the Wrigleyville neighborhood in Chicago.  Unlike other stadiums that you can see from miles away, Wrigley Field is so small and intimate that you don’t know where it is until you follow the crowd down the street and you’re right on top of it.  Walking into the stadium, you can feel the excitement and energy from the crowd immediately.  The interior has that same archaic look that Fenway has, where there is more wood and old paint look then that metallic, smooth, electronic look of the newer stadiums.

We walked in right as they were doing the national anthem, and I was able to take in just how small the stadium was.  But what the park lacked in size it made up for in character with the manual scoreboard out in center field and the make-shift bleacher seats on the rooftops of the buildings across the street (easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen).   Also seeing the seats in left field reminded me of the famous Bartman incident in 2003, and I can see how easily the fans in that section are on top of the action out there.  Our ticketed seats weren’t that good (although there aren’t really bad seats in the park since it’s so small), so throughout the game my buddy and I inched our way closer and closer until we had seats that gave us a great vantage point on the first baseline.

The fans at Wrigley were both amusing and knowledgeable, making the conversations around us almost as entertaining as the game itself.  Our baseball experience was rounded out with a Chicago hot dog and cold Old Style beer (the Natty-Bo, Milwaukee’s Best, Iron City, whatever shitty beer you want to insert, of Chicago).  The close, back and forth game was also an exciting one with home runs, a play at the plate, web gems, and a beer getting thrown in the opposing players face as he tried to catch a fly ball (,0,5736166.story).  We also got a little Chicago native John Cusack as well singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the traditional 7th inning stretch ceremony.

But ultimately, in stereotypical Cubs fashion, they blew the 5-4 lead in the 9th inning and lost the game 6-5.  The picture that said it all in my mind was seeing a Cubs fan in the bathroom afterwards, shaking his head and talking to no one in particular saying “The Cubs are so bad…They’re so bad….”.  Don’t worry Cubs fans, take it from a Red Sox fan – It has to happen sometime.  But believe me, even if the Cubbies lose, the bars around the park are still hopping like crazy afterwards and everyone seems to still know how to have a good time.

If you’re a baseball fan, get yourself to a Cubs game at some point in your life.  I don’t know how much longer that ballpark can hold up over time, so get the experience in while you can.