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Monday, April 14, 2008

Pat's Pizza [Meeting #56]

Pat's Pizza
2679 N. Lincoln Ave. (GoogleMaps)

CPC invaded Pat's Pizza on 4/16/08.

The Chicago Pizza Club is growing. 8 people showed up tonight, including two new members. The venue, Pat's Pizza, has been in Lakeview since 1950. For most of that time, it was at 3114 N. Sheffield, a location that was recently replaced with a rather unattractive condo development across the street from the Vic Theater. Pat's moved about six blocks away to its current location. Fortunately, they remembered to bring their award-winning pizza recipes with them.

Pat's was recently named by Time Out Chicago as having the best bar style pizza in the city, suspiciously placing it one slot ahead of south side institution, Vito and Nick's. The CPC had to investigate.

The eight of us ordered five pies: A large thin quatro formagi, a large thin goat cheese and artichoke, a medium thin pesto and a medium thin taco pizza. In CPC-order-some-of-everything style, we also got a large pan sausage pizza. I am pleased to report that every pie was an unqualified success.

The quatro formagi was a spectacular blend of ricotta, gorgonzola, mozzarella, and parmesan. And garlic, a good amount of garlic. Sauce is optional of the four cheese pizza and we opted to have it. There wasn't much of it and with the heavy cheese flavor and the garlic, I didn't even notice it. The crust on the quatro formagi, like all of the thin crusts, was outstanding. It was cracker thin, not too oily to the touch, but with enough oil or butter to give it a lot more flavor than I expected from a crust so thin.

The taco pizza was topped with seasoned ground beef, refried beans, salsa, cheddar, mozzarella, lettuce, carrot, tomato and black olives. This was my introduction to taco pizza, though it has been ordered at a couple previous CPC meetings I did not attend, so I don't have a basis to compare it to. But those toppings, complemented by the perfect crunchy thin crust, made one excellent pizza.

The pesto pizza and the goat cheese and artichoke pizza were also both delicious. Particularly nice about the latter was the amount of goat cheese. Often, pizzerias put a couple of dollops of goat cheese on. Not so here - I think there was an entire layer. I would have preferred season artichoke hearts rather than the ones on this pie, that's a minor quibble.

I was initially hesitant to order the pan pizza as Pat's is so well known for it's thin crust pies. But I was quickly reminded that the CPC tries it all and I acquiesced. I'm glad I did. We got a simple pan pizza - nothing but Pat's homemade sausage. First, a word about the crust. I've never had a crust like this. It was about three times as thick as the thin crust (maybe 1/4 inch), but it was crunchy - like a well toasted piece of very good lightly-seasoned focaccia. The homemade sausage was delicious, though it was in such small bits that it was impossible to isolate a piece and eat it without the sauce. Speaking of the sauce, it was very noticeable on the pan pizza and that was a good thing. While not my favorite - I like a chunkier sauce and this one was chunk-free, the flavor was good - well-seasoned and not too sweet.

The food came quickly (less than 20 minutes), the service was good, the Cubs were beating the Reds on the big screen television, and the ambiance was fine, though a bit sterile (but the tablecloths and crayons were an unexpected nice touch). I was a little surprised that we had the restaurant to ourselves most of the night, but I think they do a big take-out business. Unlike the original location, this one is not BYOB.

As far as comparing Pat's to Vito & Nick's, I'm still torn. I definitely like the crust at Pat's, but I'm not sure about the toppings. The ambiance at Vito & Nick's is vastly superior, but since Pat's is five blocks from my house and Vito and Nick's is far away, my days of going to Vito & Nick's will be few and far between.

Petey gives Pat's Pizza an 8.0375/10.

The Sausage Pan Pizza

Taco Pizza!

Artichoke and Goat Cheese

Quatoro Formagi

The Pesto Pizza

The Chicago Pizza Club in action

Where it went down...

Pat's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


  1. For reasons explained in the main post, I give Pat's a solid 9.

  2. Pat's Pizza is a charming little place on the northside with a classic Chicago pizzeria atmosphere since 1950. It's well-known because it was rated best thin crust pizza by various publications. According to the Pat's Pizza website, Ebert claims it's the best thin-crust, but he's as liberal with his pizza praise as his waistline. So, we'll see about this.

    Upon entering the establishment, one is surrounded by old photographs along with old-timey music rounding out the booths and few center tables. Crayons are provided to draw on the paper table covers so you can reconnect with your inner child (or distract your poorly-reared offspring). I was surprised that for most of the evening there was just one other table filled, however it's possible that most of their weekday business is carry out.

    The menu contains your standard array of appetizers and pasta along with the pizzas. Four thin crust pizzas and one pan pizza were ordered: quatroformaggi, goat cheese and artichoke, taco, pesto, and pan sausage.

    I couldn't distinguish between each cheese on the Quatroformaggi pizza, but it was definitely more flavorful than regular mozarella. The crust was noticeably thin, flaky and light, with minimal oily residue.

    The goat cheese and artichoke was under a layer of mozzarella and had a noticable yet not overwhelming flavor. Artichoke complemented well for a mild-mannered combination.

    Taco was underwhelming. It looked like a taco but didn't taste like one. I think what was missing was some "mexican" seasonings and cilantro or green onions aka zest. The generous and primarily olive/lettuce/tomato combination ended up blanding out whatever was underneath, to where it should be re-named: "house salad pizza".

    Pesto was the best of their thin crust. The pesto oil and garlic flavors were properly drawn out on a pedestal of table water cracker-like crust. This pie may be best described as "pleasant"--in a positive way.

    Sausage pan wasn't memorable aside from the strange sweetness to the sausage itself. As with the thin-crust, there was minimal greasiness. Stick with the thin-crust.

    While the pizzas were well-balanced and one can taste that duly noted dedication to non-greasy cracker-thin crust in each bite, they lacked robustness to warrant the accolades. Still, Pat's Pizza is a solid Chicago pizza place where the thin crust pesto is definitely worth checking out--especially as the weather gets warmer.


  3. I really enjoyed the pizzas here, and actually I think I have to admit that the taco pizza was my favorite. The pesto didn't do a lot for me, but the quatroformaggi was excellent as was the goat cheese and artichoke. The pan pizza had some really nice flavors to it that I wasn't expecting. I love thin crust pizza when it's well made, and Pat's Pizza definitely falls into that category. But if I have to compare this place to Vito & Nick's (not taking location into consideration) I think I would have to rate Pat's a little lower than V&T's. I gave Vito & Nick's a 9/10 so I think Pat's Pizza deserves an 8/10

  4. I'm a thin crust kind of gal so this place right up my alley. The pesto pizza was yummy as the crust inherited the olive oil-y and pesto-y flavors. I also really enjoy the four cheese thin crust. I'm not sure what all cheeses were on there but it light and flavorful. The taco pizza was fun, but didn't have enough Mexican flavor to it to really stand out. The artichoke and goat cheese was good too, but I thought the artichokes could have been put into smaller pieces and spread out a little more. that way the artichoke would not have been as overwhelming. My least favorite was the sausage pan pie. The sausage, which I believe was homemade, was pretty good, but I didn't get too much of it on my slice. I was underwhelmed with the crust, which was not as flavorful as the thin, and I didn't like the texture. I like pan pizza crusts to be just a bit chewier. Overall, the thin crust is a definite winner. Thus, I give Pat's an 8.

  5. This was pretty spectacular thin crust pizza. I loved the cracker thin crust and smooth, light sauce. The four cheese was just delicious and probably my favorite of the night. I also liked the pesto pizza, especially the way the olive oil from the pesto seeped down into the crust and baked right into it. Yum. I don't think the pesto pizza was hearty enough to make a up a meal by itself, but it was a great treat mixed in with our 5-pie feast.

    This was the best taco pizza I have had (though I have only had a few). I have always thought taco pizza is a bit gimmicky, but this one managed to take the American taco elements and bring them together with the right balance to make a coherent and flavorful pizza. I tasted those Ortega taco flavorings my Irish mother used in her tacos when I was growing up, and the crust was as crunchy as a hard corn tortilla, especially around the edges where the cheese burnt into it a bit.

    While the artichokes and the goat cheese were each solid toppings, I wouldn't put them together on the same pie again. Each overpowered the other and resulted in an unpleasant dissonance.

    The pan pizza was a bit pedestrian by comparison, but still pretty solid and I won't penalize a place for excelling at one pizza staple and still making the grade with another. I liked the crumbled sausage, though I thought it tasted a bit like breakfast sausage.


  6. The quattro formaggi was my favorite, a complex flavor with just enough garlic & salt. Even writing about it is making me hungry. The taco pizza was surprisingly tasty. Since moving back to Chicago from San Francisco, I've been searching (unsuccessfully) for good Mexican food...this clearly was not authentic Mexican food, but it tasted great, like a nacho platter on top of a pizza. The pan pizza was pretty standard, though it would have benefited from larger chunks of sausage. The artichoke and goat cheese pizza was good, not great...the artichokes were flavorful, but the cheese didn't seem to have enough taste. The pesto was definitely an "eh"...I found myself reaching toward the oregano and crushed red pepper. Overall, nothing spectacular, but very solid. I would give an extra half-point for double-decker wire racks to hold the pans on the table, but scores must be based on pizza alone. So I give it 8/10

  7. My first Chicago Pizza Club experience is one to remember. Pat's Pizza was excellent. I don't normally elect to eat thin crust pizza, but I would return to Pat's. The crust was tasty and held together well. The ingredients seemed gourmet and were perfectly proportioned. All together everything was very tasty. And as a vegetarian, they had a lot of yummy options for me. The quattroformaggi and pesto were my favorites. I think the best part was that I could eat so much because it was like cheese and crackers. Thin crust has a whole new meaning for me now. I give Pat's a 9.

  8. wow. you guys are really selling this place! did they pay to help build up the business after the fire? they must have, because this place was empty and the old pat's, in a similarly good location, was much larger and busier.

    So we got like a kajillion pizzas and they all shared an excellent, crisp crust - even the deep dish. i felt they were heavy handed with the salt, especially on the pesto pizza. Easily, I say the four cheese was the best one. It really did become a nice symphony as opposed to so many cheese pizzas where you wonder if you got more than mozzarella and some parmesan for saltiness.

    I championed the artichoke and goat cheese pizza and was immediately dissatisfied. the goat cheese was fair, but the artichokes were the briniest artichokes in the world. they may have been ancient european relics that were sunk during the great war. that comment illustrates how long i felt they were stored in a jar.

    so, using our brand new scale, i will go with a 6.3. the pizza was certainly tolerable and while the crust and some of the toppings were impressive, the sauce is 100% non-descript and other toppings were forgettable. In other words, I don't predict a repeat visit. Ever.

    -El Presidente