Pizza à la Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

July 2008
“What’s this?”

“What’s what?” My boyfriend asks me. 

“What’s this?” I ask again, using my fork this time to point to the area in question. 

“That? It’s the sausage.” I think to myself how bad an attempt he’s making at trying to pull my leg. 

“This isn’t sausage,” I tell him as my fork becomes momentarily stuck in the supposed substance. “Sausage on a pizza is meant to be crumbly, not something three inches thick that resembles a bed.” Carnivores would be in meaty heaven if they were to see this. 

“Well it is. And if you wouldn’t mind temporarily ceasing your attack on the pizza, I myself would like to begin eating some of it.”

Retrieving my fork (again), I watch as Darryl takes his first bite of the steaming pizza. I inwardly hope to myself that he slightly burns his mouth for having made fun of me over the questioning of the sausage, but he doesn’t seem to. Rather, almost instantly a look that is a cross between bliss and fulfillment settles across his face. 

“I’m guessing it’s good then?” 

Better was all he would say in response. He was too busy stuffing more bites into his mouth. Realizing how silly and slightly standoffish I was being since one of the things we were both interested in trying on our trip to Chicago was the world renowned, deep dish pizza,  I quickly slice myself a piece. It was so hot I almost dropping it off the table and not on my plate.

Becoming entranced by the smell of the gooey mozzarella cheese and the zesty smelling tomatoes, I take my first bite of the Malnati Chicago Classic. With a gleam in his eyes, Darryl asks me, “good, eh?” as he starts cutting his second slice. 

We were dining at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, a venerable spot on the Chicago dining scene, located in the hip and trendy River North area. Having been in operation for 40 years, it’s considered to be one of the best places in Chicago to get a deep dish pizza and is beloved by both tourists and locals. 

After taking a couple of extremely filling bites (sausage thick as a sheet of ice will do that to you), I pause a moment to study the pizza (well what’s left of it now). My boyfriend has a way of literally devouring the types of foods that will undoubtedly lead to being told at his  next doctor’s visit about increases in his cholesterol levels and lipids. 

Enemy of the more widely known thin crust pizza, the deep dish pizza intrigues me, especially when I notice that the ingredients have been placed in the opposite order of the thin crust.  (I usually eat the contents of the pizza and leave the crust to be thrown out). The crust on our deep dish pizza is like no other. It is buttercrust, as in butter was spread on the pizza dough prior to baking, resulting in an extra delicious (and extra fatty) crust. 

“Maybe they got tired of throwing away endless pieces of crust so they just decided to slather on some butter to the dough. I mean, if you follow Paula Deen’s cooking manta on how everything is better with butter, loads and loads of it, it’s an easy win.” 

Clearly having ignored my slightly philosophical musings on butter and pizza, Darryl features a perplexed look on his face when he says, “I just can’t decide. New York or Chicago. The Empire State Building or the Sears Tower. Thin crust or deep dish.” Whereas I am more of a sightseeing tourist when I travel, Darryl is clearly more of a foodie.

Laughing at his random speech of the day, I proceed to cast my vote for the Chicago-style deep dish pizza, maybe for no other reason than it was new, something different to my taste buds. Growing up in Philadelphia, a city just a couple hours away from New York City, I had spent my whole life eating thin crust style pizza. The time had come for change and what a good change it was. 

Only next time I’ll probably go with a different topping…

Personal Pan from Lou Malnati’s
 Pizzeria Due creation (offspring of the famed Pizzeria Uno)

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