Thursday, July 6, 2017

Deep dish

Burt's pizza


     Chicago didn't invent pizza. But it did invent deep dish pizza. In 1943, at Pizzeria Uno, supposedly—documentation is sketchy, though nobody else claims the honor.
     Uno's is still around, though I never go there unless I'm squiring somebody from out of town. The cornmeal crust at Uno's, well, I understand there are people who like it, and while I'll eat it if it's set before me, I don't go out of my way to have it set before me, if you catch my drift.
     Lou Malnati's is excellent. It's the tomato sauce; pure and perfect. Their deep dish with spinach and mushrooms, on their Buttercrust crust. When we order pizza, it's what we order, unless my wife insists on indulging her passion for thin crust, which I agree to do because fair's fair and, besides, I know I won't eat much of it.
     But Lou Malnati's, though it styles itself as "the absolute best" is not, in fact, the best deep dish pizza the city has to offer (hmm, now I'm starting to see why they don't advertise. Candor and good business sense are not friends). That distinction goes to Burt's Place, in Morton Grove. Burt's offers up a caramelized, almost burnt pizza that is beyond words.
     And if you are saying, "But Burt's closed in 2015" you are right. It did close in 2015. And Burt Katz, its quirky, not always pleasant owner of 26 years, died the next year. One interview I put off a little too long.
     But Burt's re-opened in March, without Burt And I went back there as part of a pizza fest my oldest son insisted upon before he exiled himself to the pizza wasteland of Los Angeles. We went to Chicago Pizza Oven and Grinder, where I don't even order pizza (salad, Mediterranean bread and, if I'm feeling decadent, a meatball grinder). Then Lou's, ordered in. Then Burt's.
     Third time's the charm.
     The Burt's pizza was so good it made me happy. Briefly at least. Happy to be there and eat it. Happy afterward on the way home, just that something so damn good exists and the public has access to it. Not so brief, now that I think about it. I'm still a little happy, thinking about my next visit to Burt's.
     At the old Burt's, you had to order your pizza a day ahead of time, which made going there difficult. The new Burt's has put in an extra oven, so ordering ahead on weekends is not necessary. I spoke with one of the new owners, and he seemed ... I don't want to say "struggling," so let's say, "working hard" to keep the place humming along. It's hard to run a restaurant; harder still when you are learning on the fly. Nor was it as crowded on a Friday night as the only restaurant offering the best deep dish pizza in Chicago ought to be.
      What I'm saying is, go to Burt's. And so will I. And between the two of us, we'll keep the place afloat. In the meantime, if there is a better deep dish pizza in Chicago, I'd like to hear about it though I'll tell you right now: I don't believe you. It's Burt's.

15 comments:

  1. been going to bacinos on lincoln ave . next to where chef louis the bakery used to be. i like the stuffed spinach with mushrooms and fresh garlic. its not " deep dish " per se. and it may not be the best but i like it and have been getting it for over 20 years

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    1. I used to l-o-o-o-ve that place, and their stuffed spinach pizza, when I lived a few blocks away (decades ago). We'll go back occasionally, but it's tough to recapture the experience.

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  2. Nice counter point to yesterday's lament for lost enthusiasm.

    John

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  3. Nancy's invented stuffed deep dish. The cheese & toppings are under the sauce. I can't get excited about deep dish. I'm strictly a thin crust kinda guy. Nancy's for carry-out, because it's close, and Home Run Inn for restaurant dining.
    I grew up eating my mother's home made pizza. Now, that was exciting!

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  4. Thin crust usually wins out at our abode, though we love an occasional deep dish pizza. Malnatti's is close by so we often order from them, but we will definitely give Burt's a try. And soon.

    SandyK

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  5. I've never understood why some people, many of them from New York, get so worked up about "Chicago-style" pizza. "It's not pizza, it's an abomination," etc. Yeesh. Deep-dish pizza, done right, is delicious, and if you don't agree, them don't freaking order it.

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  6. My first experience with pizza was a rather thick-crusted creation with large rolled edges, lathered with tomato sauce and nothing else -- this came from real Italian nuns, none of whom stood higher than 5 feet from the ground and most who sported mustaches that we teens at Mt. Carmel College in Niagara Falls would have found hard to equal. To this day, I consider what the nuns served us as real pizza and all others dandified fakes, delicious but fakes nonetheless.

    john

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    1. Delightful, john. You've got me LOLing...

      SandyK

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  7. I like Pequod's Pizza on North Clybourn.

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  8. Yes, thin crust preferred. Don't care for all that thick blob of cheese and it's worse for those watching their cholesterol count.

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  9. I'm of the "deep dish pizza is an abomination" school. Too much of everything. For me the ideal pizza has a thin, but flavorful crust, is lightly sauced with freshly pureed tomatoes, topped with only a good quality mozzarella and garnished with no more than two kinds of meats and/or veggies. I know where such pizza paragons can be had, but alas, not around here.

    Nice picture of, I believe, Santa Maria del Fiore.

    Tom

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  10. Maybe it's the service, but the Lou Malnati's in Evanston is no great shakes...recently returned to Gino's and their sausage patty special was out of this world. I like Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder (although I think it used to be better) and am also partial to Gulliver's on Howard, though the decor is part of the attraction. Will have to make the pilgrimage to Morton Grove -- thanks!

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  11. Lou Malnati's for deep-dish, JB Alberto's in Rogers Park for thin crust.

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  12. Giordano's spinach deep dosh is a good one. Try the thin crust at Boni Vino's on Van Buren... a great throwback spot.

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  13. The Burt from Burt's Pizza had a hand in starting Gullivers and Pequods.

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