Monday April 16, 2012
We all love finding a great restaurant off the beaten path. There's the thrill of discovery, and with great obscurity comes greater street cred (or internet foodie cred, at least). And though many famous restaurants can rest on their laurels and rely on a steady stream of tourists, some restaurants are iconic and well-loved for good reason. And sometimes there's no better way to acclimate yourself with a new city than eating the most obvious indigenous foodstuff. With Eating the Obvious series, I'm taking a look at these restaurants and foods. This week's entry: deep dish pizza from Pequod'sin Chicago.
Neapolitan pizzerias are spreading like wildfire across the country. The nation's trendiest pizzerias are shipping in their ovens from Naples and refuse to slice your pizza (as it will comprise their integrity and bring shame to their Nonna). But with all due respect to Neapolitan-style pizza in general (which I'm a fan of), when I'm in Chicago, my first priority is deep dish. Whereas you can find great wood-fired thin crust pizza just about anywhere, it's damn near impossible to locate a quality molten-hot, multi-layered pan pizza outside of the Windy City.
On my last trip to Chicago, my gracious hosts were kind enough to fulfill my deep-dish desires by chauffeuring me to the Lincoln Square Pequod's. (There's also a Morton Grove location that looks, in the best way possible, like your parents' basement circa 1975). With a couple of obligatory inches of snow on the ground, the Bears playing on the many TV's and pitchers of Leinenkugel, it was shaping up to be a sufficiently Chicago-y evening. After ordering and enduring a moderate wait - this ain't no cracker-thin, brick-oven affair that's done in 3 minutes - our sizeable pizzas made their way to the table, nearly bubbling out of their hefty cast iron pans, which were lowered onto whale-shaped cutting boards. (It's called Pequod's for a reason, folks. Who said pizza joints can't have high culture?) Toppings are top-notch, with thick-cut pepperoni and real-deal sausage that'll make you wonder why you ever bothered with the rubbery mystery meat from your average delivery place. The unquestioned star of the show, however, is the signature "caramelized crust," and the deliciously charred cheese around the edges. It's every bit as good as advertised. Slipping into a deep food coma after attempting to polish off 3 pieces, I can't decide whether it's a curse or a blessing that I lack regular access to something as wonderful as legit Chicago-style pizza.