2121 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
|MONDAY – THURSDAY||4PM-11PM|
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