My sister, Flava Flav, came from L.A. to visit me for the weekend. It being her first time in the Windy City, I felt it my sisterly duty to introduce her to some of Chicago’s signature fare. On the menu: deep dish pizza.
Now, introducing a unique regional dish or cuisine to an inexperienced diner is a fine art. You can’t talk up the food too much before they try it; the food should speak for itself. You also can’t make excuses for unique characteristics of the food or the establishment. Finally, and most importantly, you must take your subject to the eatery that produces the finest example of the dish. And for deep dish pizza, that’s Pizzeria Uno.
Empanada Boy and I first discovered the beauty of Pizzeria Uno (and neighboring Due) when my parents came to town. It’s not that we hadn’t heard of the placeâ€” this is arguably one of the most famous restaurants in Chicago, the site where deep dish pizza was invented back in 1943. We were just skeptical that such a tourist phenomenon could actually be good. EB had also tried the inferior pies at one of the Uno franchises in Madison and was disappointed.
We ordered a large spinach pizza and had to bide our time for an hour before a table opened up. We had to wait an extra half hour more once we sat down. I think they make the wait so long because they want you to order more appetizers and drinks, but if you know what’s good for you, you abstain. This is the cake of pizza, and once it comes, it will fill you up quickly.
The spinach pie was worth the wait. The dense, crunchy crust is so rich it tastes more like pastry than bread. In an order that goes against the common assembly of pizza, the crust is covered with the mozzarella and then topped with a layer of sweet, tangy basil tomato sauce with many of the skinned Roma tomatoes still partially intact. Next comes the spinach, which is generously sprinkled with a layer of Parmesan.
After a long day of touring the city and waiting for the pizza, the three of us managed to eat all but one piece. Then it was time to roll ourselves home for a nap. Eating deep dish pizza is not an everyday affair for me, but it is a special treat that reminds me what makes Chicago unique. I think Flava liked the pizza too, which was, in a way, a nod of approval for the city I now call home.
29 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611