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Monday, December 11, 2006

Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co. [Meeting #38]

Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co.
2121 N Clark St. (Google Maps)
(773) 248-2570

CPC invaded Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co. on 12/21/06

Well, it took two tries and we still only had three people show up, but the 38th Meeting of the Chicago Pizza Club was an unqualified success as we tasted a pizza like no other – Pizza Pot Pie at Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Company.

On February 14, 1929, the Valentine’s Day Massacre took place directly across the street. Rumor has it, the current home of Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Company was a house used as a lookout by some 1920s gangbangers. No word on whether the owner of the restaurant invented the rumor.

Anyhow, the place takes no reservations but balances that out with a full bar. When we got there, there was no host hanging around, but there was a large crowd of people, some vocalizing their frustration about the wait. Every so often a host does stroll over. He had no pad of paper and does not want anyone’s name. He simply asks how many are in your party and no matter what you say, he tells you the wait is 40 minutes. He remembers the order in which people arrive, so there is no need to hover around the front of the line (though we did so anyhow). It seems the no name policy may be a throwback to the gangbanger days of Lincoln Park’s past – the place also accepts no credit cards. There is no record of anyone ever eating there.

The ambience was nice – fairly dark with wood paneled walls and large wooden booths. The Christmas decorations were a needless reminder that the majority of Americans believe in Creationism.

We arrived at 7:32, gave our number (3) at 7:40 and were told it would 40 minutes. 50 minutes later, we were seated and handed menus. Service was fast and friendly. We sat at 8:30, ordered at 8:35, and got our salad at 8:40.

That’s right, salad. In a break from Pizza Club tradition, we ordered the Great American Salad - lettuce, delicious smoked ham, provolone and Swiss cheese, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, artichoke hearts... tossed with freshly grated Romano cheese. Topped with creamy garlic dressing, sweet and sour poppy seed dressing, fresh ground pepper, and/or an interesting mix of largely unidentified seasonings, the salad was quite tasty.

If one goes to Chicago Pizza & Over Grinder for pizza, the choices are limited. There is only Pizza Pot Pie, no regular pizza. There was some debate as to whether a meatball oven grinder could fall into a broad definition of pizza, we opted not to open that door. Within the pizza pot pie genre, we were given the options of wheat or white, with or without mushrooms, meat sauce or tomato sauce, and ½ pound or full pound. We got three ½ pounders, 2 wheat and 1 white, all with meat sauce and all with mushrooms.

And none of the Pizza Clubbers were able to resist the Adam’s Apple, a delightful warm libation made of red wine, apple cider, whiskey, brandy, raisins and a cinnamon stick.

The pizza itself was good. Not great, but good. I enjoyed the meat sauce and both the wheat and white crust were good. I was expecting more of a pastry type crust as is commonly found in pot pie, but the crust was more of a chewy pizza crust. There was nothing extraordinary about the pizza – no wacky ingredients beyond the “doorknob size” mushrooms which were far smaller than any doorknob any pizza club member has ever laid eyes on. The meat sauce, while good, was also unlike any pizza sauce we’d ever tasted.

All in all, this was a pretty unique place which was good, but not great. The long line will forever remain a mystery. The pizza was good enough that I would not write it off as a gimmick, but not good enough to wait almost an hour for ever again.

Petey gives Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder a 6.6/10.

Waiting for our "number"

A salad at Pizza Club?!?? Yes, it happened

Salads gone, let's get down to real business!

Pizza Pot Pie, ready to serve

Being born

Where it went down

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm giving this place a 6.8... kind of too much of a novely to really be compared fairly to the other pizzas we've reviewed, but definitely a delicious meal. Perfect for a cold winter evening.

  2. I enjoyed my pizza pot pie. Aside from the way it's put together, the biggest difference from traditional pizza was the sauce. The bread and cheese were pretty standard, but the meat sauce was of a type you would usually find ladled over a plateful of pasta. Also, there was about five times the amount of sauce you would find in a traditional pizza. Everything tasted fresh. No points for salad, cider, or service, but all of those things were great. I give this place a 6.5.

  3. Hey Guys,

    Love your site, really informative on my favorite subject! My wife and I are going to be in Chicago for four days in April, staying in Deerfield, with a couple of days in the city. We visited Lou Manalti's last time we were in the area. Where would any of you recommend for our next visit, that's also not too far off the beaten track?


    Mark in the Bahamas